The reviews collected here include all of the items found in Walt Whitman: The Contemporary Reviews, ed. Kenneth M. Price (Cambridge University Press, 1996). In addition, we have included 68 additional reviews that were not included in that volume because of space considerations or because they had not been discovered. In short, this online collection represents the most complete collection of contemporary reviews of Whitman to be found anywhere. Users who discover additional reviews are urged to contact the directors of the Whitman Archive to help make an ever-more complete record. The reviews written during Whitman's lifetime, frequently within weeks or months of the appearance of his various publications, provide an important lens with which to view his earliest reception. The response to Whitman was lively, colorful, and at times wildly extreme. These extraordinary reviews are one index to the power of the writings that prompted them.
A critical introduction to the reviews, which combines material from The Contemporary Reviews and the 2007 supplement published in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review (Fall–Winter 2007), is forthcoming. Users of this site may notice that some reviews are annotated (those that were collected in WWQR) and others are not (those collected in the Cambridge University Press volume). Ultimately all of the reviews will be annotated for their presentation on the Whitman Archive, as time allows. A package of the XML files is available for download here.