Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, [10 February 1888]

Date: [February 10, 1888]

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:149. 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.00903

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



Will send the MS. back by express next Monday, 13th—

Put down

T B Harned1
566 Federal Street
Camden New Jersey

as a subscriber to the book

COD—(or I suppose any time)—
I will send some names2

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. Thomas Biggs Harned (1851–1921) was one of Whitman's literary executors. Harned was a lawyer in Philadelphia and, having married Augusta Anna Traubel (1856–1914), was Horace Traubel's brother-in-law. For more on him, see Dena Mattausch, "Harned, Thomas Biggs (1851–1921)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). For more on his relationship with Whitman, see Thomas Biggs Harned, Memoirs of Thomas B. Harned, Walt Whitman's Friend and Literary Executor, ed. Peter Van Egmond (Hartford: Transcendental Books, 1972). [back]

2. About this time Kennedy asked for names of potential subscribers to his study of Walt Whitman. In the same letter he mentioned William Dean Howells' comment on Whitman in Harper's Monthly for February (478–479)—"some colorless & diplomatically drawing-roomish talk on you & Tolstoi. Pretty good though, & worthy yr reading. H. is never profound, methinks; but is graceful & happy." See the letter from Kennedy to Whitman of February 3, 1888[back]


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