Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 16 October 1886

Date: October 16, 1886

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:52. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: The Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00825

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein and Kyle Barton




328 Mickle street
Camden N J
Oct: 16 '86
P M

Yours of 14th rec'd by midday mail—Good roots (as the N Y boys used to say) to your venture1—I havn't heard from O'C[onnor]2 in quite a while—I fear he is, medically, in a bad way—I am sailing along ab't as usual—have just had my light dinner—Cool & raw weather here—my canary is singing blithely, as I write—


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and later published biographies of Longfellow and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography). Apparently Kennedy had called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [1896], 1). Though Kennedy was to become a fierce defender of Whitman, in his first published article he admitted reservations about the "coarse indecencies of language" and protested that Whitman's ideal of democracy was "too coarse and crude"; see The Californian, 3 (February 1881), 149–158. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. Probably a reference to Kennedy's plan to submit his study of Whitman to Chatto & Windus (see the letter from Whitman to Kennedy of August 19, 1886). Kennedy's letter is not known. [back]

2. William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet "The Good Gray Poet," published in 1866 (a digital version of the pamphlet is available at "The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication"). For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, O'Connor, William Douglas [1832–1889][back]


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