Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 11 August [1886]

Date: August 11, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: col.00006

Source: Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, New York. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial notes: The annotations, "(over)," and "['86]," are in an unknown hand. The annotation, "This card relates to the ms of my 'Walt Whitman, the Poet of Humanity'," is in the hand of William Sloane Kennedy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, Marie Ernster, Stephanie Blalock, Paige Wilkinson, and Amanda J. Axley

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Aug: 11 Evn'g1

I may keep the MS2 a few days longer—two or three—I find upon taking it up to–day, it has a wonderful tenacity—of course a capital sign—I will send a few suggestion–notes—


William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and the Boston Transcript; he also published biographies of Longfellow, Holmes, and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933], 336–337). Apparently Kennedy called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardener, 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).


1. This postal card is addressed: Wm Sloane Kennedy | Belmont Mas[s]. It is postmarked: CAMDEN | AUG | 11 | 8 PM | 1886 | N.J.; PHILADELPHIA | AUG | 11 | 9 PM | 1886 | [illegible] [back]

2. Kennedy's manuscript, "Walt Whitman, the Poet of Humanity," eventually became two books, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896) and The Fight of a Book for the World (1926). [back]


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