Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 3 June [1887]

Date: June 3, 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), 4:97–98. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00847

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden New Jersey1
June 3—P M

Yours of June 1 rec'd this afternoon—Thanks—best & joyfulest thanks to you & Baxter2 & all—I will write to you to-morrow, (or next day,) after thinking it over a bit, & tell you detailedly—at present I have not settled on spot—but am fill'd with gratitude & pleasure at the prospect of having a country or perhaps sea shore shanty of my own3


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. This letter is endorsed (by Kennedy): "['87]." [back]

2. Sylvester Baxter (1850–1927) was on the staff of the Boston Herald. Apparently he met Whitman for the first time when the poet delivered his Lincoln address in Boston in April, 1881; see Rufus A. Coleman, "Whitman and Trowbridge," PMLA 63 (1948), 268. Baxter wrote many newspaper columns in praise of Whitman's writings, and in 1886 attempted to obtain a pension for the poet. For more, see Christopher O. Griffin, "Baxter, Sylvester [1850–1927]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Whitman is referring to William Sloane Kennedy's idea of building the poet a summer cottage. Sylvester Baxter took charge of raising money for this Cottage Fund project in and around Boston. See William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896), 10–11. [back]


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