Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
Beach, Juliette H. (1829–1900)
Author:
Mullins, Maire
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Journalist, editor (1869–1871), and owner (1868–1900) of the Orleans Republican, a newspaper published in Albion, New York, Beach also wrote and published prose and poetry in magazines and newspapers. Her patriotic verse was widely circulated during the Civil War. She married Calvin Beach (1830–1868) in 1850; at his death Juliette became owner, manager, and editor of the newspaper, unusual for a woman in the nineteenth century.

Beach and her husband occasionally visited New York City, and they knew Henry Clapp, editor of the Saturday Press. Clapp advised Whitman to send a copy of the 1860 Leaves of Grass to Juliette Beach for review. On 2 June 1860 a review was published in the Saturday Press. It was unfavorable, calling the "Children of Adam" poems "disgusting," describing Whitman as a poet who possessed "strength and beauty—but . . . no soul" (qtd. in Giantvalley 13), and advising Whitman to "drown himself" (qtd. in Furness 425). Calvin Beach, who had intercepted Leaves of Grass and read it, apparently wrote this first review himself and submitted it to the Saturday Press unsigned. Clapp mistakenly appended Juliette's initials to it, and a week later had to print a retraction.

On 23 June a second review of Leaves of Grass appeared in the Saturday Press. This time the review, written by Juliette Beach and signed "A Woman," described Leaves of Grass as "the standard book of poems in the future of America" and Whitman as "an embodiment of the new 'National Genius'" (qtd. in Giantvalley 14).

According to Ellen O'Connor, this incident sparked a correspondence between Whitman and Beach which went on for many years (although no letters have been found), and it was for Beach that Whitman wrote "Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd" (1865).

Bibliography

Allen, Gay Wilson. The Solitary Singer: A Critical Biography of Walt Whitman. 1955. Rev. ed. 1967. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1985.

Callow, Phillip. From Noon to Starry Night: A Life of Walt Whitman. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1992.

"Death of Mrs. C.G. Beach." Obituary. Orleans Republican 20 June 1900.

Furness, Clifton Joseph. Rev. of American Giant: Walt Whitman and His Times, by Frances Winwar. American Literature 13 (1942): 423–432.

Giantvalley, Scott. Walt Whitman, 1838–1939: A Reference Guide. Boston: Hall, 1981.

"History of 'Republican' Written by Fred G. Beach." Orleans Republican 24 July 1928.

Holloway, Emory. "Washington (1863–1873)." The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman. 1921. Ed. Holloway. Vol. 1. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1972. lviii–lix n15.

Kaplan, Justin. Walt Whitman: A Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980.


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