Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
Price, Helen E. (b. 1841)
Author:
Ceniza, Sherry
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Helen Price, daughter of Abby and Edmund Price, did not take the active public role in women's rights that her mother did, but that is not to say that she was a passive observer of her culture. She comes alive, historically, through her two articles on Whitman and her mother and through the detailed letters she wrote to Whitman's mother. We also know her through the letters she wrote to Horace Traubel, and to Richard Maurice Bucke in answer to his requests for information on Whitman and for copies of her and Louisa's letters.

Price was an infant when her parents moved to Hopedale, Massachusetts, the community Adin Ballou founded in 1841. She went with her parents to the Raritan Bay Union in 1853, outside of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and then to Brooklyn, where she lived with them until they moved to Red Bank, where her mother Abby died in 1878. Helen lived in Woodside, New Jersey, following her mother's death.

Fortunately for Whitman scholarship, she wrote a chapter in Bucke's biography of Whitman, as well as a 1919 newspaper article. Both contain background information on Whitman in the 1850s and early 1860s, as well as on the Price family. In her personal letters, Helen Price mentions numerous names of people who came to the Price home to visit and she also mentions events she and her mother attended, thus providing readers with a sense of the Price home and the Prices' mindset. The close friendship Whitman shared with the Price family and the culturally significant nature of the Price household provide valuable insights into the life and interests of Whitman.

Bibliography

Bucke, Richard Maurice. Walt Whitman. Philadelphia: McKay, 1883.

Price, Helen. "Reminiscences of Walt Whitman." New York Evening Post Book Review 31 May 1919.


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