Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 25 February [1881]

Date: February 25, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00757

Source: The Trent Collection of Walt Whitman Manuscripts, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:214. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

Camden N J1
Feb: 25

Thanks—If convenient then send me the Carlyle Tribune2—& I will return.

Walt Whitman


1. This card marks the beginning of Whitman's extensive correspondence with William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929), who at this time was on the staff of the Philadelphia American, and who later published biographies of Longfellow and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography). Apparently Kennedy had called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [London: Alexander Gardner, 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. Yet, according to John Burroughs's letter to Whitman on November 2, 1880, Kennedy was angered by Edmund Clarence Stedman's article in Scribner's Monthly (see the letter from Whitman to Burroughs of November 26, 1880), and thought that his own article did Whitman "fuller justice" (T. E. Hanley Collection, University of Texas). He vigorously defended his views in a letter to Burroughs on February 26, 1881 (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 201–204). [back]

2. Excerpts from articles about Thomas Carlyle appeared in the New York Tribune on February 21. Whitman returned the clipping from the newspaper on February 28 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]


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