Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 8 January 1885

Date: January 8, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00801

Source: The Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, 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), 3:385. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

328 Mickle Street
Camden New Jersey—
Jan 8 '85

Welcome letter—return'd books, &c. just rec'd (with slip—thanks)1—Am feeling well—Fine & sunny to-day—Have had a pleasant two-hours visit from Edmund Gosse2

Walt Whitman

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. On January 7 William Sloane Kennedy returned a copy of Burroughs's book which he had read on the trip from Camden to Belmont, Mass.: "I shall cherish the memory of that blessed January 2nd '85 to the end of my days. My dear Whitman—I want you to regard me as a sort of son; tell me whenever I can do anything for you; let me loan you 5.00 if you get in a pinch, (& I have it) . . . & behave handsomely & intimately & affectionately toward me." See also William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896), 4. [back]

2. See the letter from Whitman to Edmund Gosse of December 31, 1884[back]


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