Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
White, William (1910–1995)
Author:
Kummings, Donald D.
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

From the 1950s to the 1990s, William White was a strong presence in literary studies in general and in Whitman studies in particular. By the end of his career he had contributed roughly twenty-five hundred articles and reviews to professional journals and had authored, edited, or compiled nearly forty books. Some of his books were on figures as widely divergent as John Donne, A.E. Housman, Sir William Osler, Ernest Hemingway, and Nathanael West. Only a handful of White's important contributions to Whitman scholarship can be noted here: he authored Walt Whitman's Journalism: A Bibliography (1968); edited Whitman's Daybooks and Notebooks (3 volumes, 1978); coedited Leaves of Grass: A Textual Variorum of the Printed Poems (3 volumes, 1980); and coedited volume 6 of Horace Traubel's With Walt Whitman in Camden (1982). His crowning achievement, however, may well have been his work on periodicals devoted to Whitman. From 1956 to 1982 he edited the Walt Whitman Review, and from 1983 to 1989 he coedited the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. In these editorial positions, "he had," says Ed Folsom, "a Whitman-like commitment to a diversity of ideas and to a democratic access to print . . ." (207).

Born in Paterson, New Jersey, and educated at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (B.A., 1933), the University of Southern California (M.A., 1937), and the University of London (Ph.D., 1953), White taught courses in journalism and American studies at numerous colleges and universities but spent most of his academic career at Wayne State University (1947–1980). Along with his various teaching positions, White also held jobs as reporter, columnist, and editor of more than a dozen daily and weekly newspapers.

Bibliography

Folsom, Ed. "William White, 1910–1995." Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 12 (1995): 205–208.


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