Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 22 April 1887
Date: April 22, 1887
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:88. 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.00840
Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock
Philadelphia April 22 '87
Have come over here on a few days' visit to R P Smith1 on Arch street—Enjoy all—Have just had my dinner—Mr S is one of my kindest friends. Y'r letters rec'd—always welcomed. The Gilchrist book2 seems to be making quite a ripple—Y'r comments on it I tho't tip top—
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 , 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).
1. Robert Pearsall Smith (1827–1898) was a Quaker who became an evangelical minister associated with the "Holiness movement." He was also a writer and businessman. Whitman often stayed at his Philadelphia home, where the poet became friendly with the Smith children—Mary, Logan, and Alys. For more information about Smith, see Christina Davey, "Smith, Robert Pearsall (1827–1898)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
2. Whitman is referring to Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist's (1857–1914) Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887) about the life of his mother Anne, one of Whitman's staunchest supporters in Great Britain. For more information on Whitman's relationship with Gilchrist, see "Gilchrist, Anne Burrows (1828–1885)." [back]