Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 4 October 1888

Date: October 4, 1888

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:218. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: Huntington Public Library, Huntington, New York

Whitman Archive ID: hpl.00006

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden
Thursday Evn'g
Oct: 4 '881

Still here in my sick room—everything much the same—Book printing &c slowly proceeding—the sheets now in the bindery—Shall send you the little Nov: Boughs2 soon—a good visit f'm H3 Garland4 —Cool & pleasant—I have a wood fire—Horace5 is here every day—continues invaluable.


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 addressed: Wm Sloane Kennedy | Belmont | Mass:. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Oct 4 | 8 PM | 88. [back]

2. Whitman's November Boughs was published in October 1888 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. For more information on the book, see James E. Barcus Jr., "November Boughs [1888]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Hamlin Garland (1860–1940) was an American novelist and autobiographer, known especially for his works about the hardships of farm life in the American Midwest. For his relationship to Whitman, see Thomas K. Dean, "Garland, Hamlin," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Walt Whitman was "favorably impressed" with Garland's visit on September 26: "Garland has guts—the good kind: has voice, power, manliness—has chest-tones in his talk which attract me" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, September 26, 1888). [back]

5. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the mid-1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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