Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 10 June 1885

Date: June 10, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00802

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), 3:393–394. 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 and Kyle Barton

328 Mickle St Camden N J
June 10 '851

Dear K

I return the MS—It has a magnificence of strength, originality & suggestion—& I adhere fully to what I advised in my former note2—I think a synopsis of V[ictor] H[ugo] and T[ennyson] with the other parts—& then this MS. brought in as the reason for writing synopsis—just the same as Homer?3 compiles the first 18 books of the Iliad, purely to bring in the remain[in]g 6—your main matter—


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 letter is endorsed: "on MS of my | 'Poet As A | Craftsman.'" [back]

2. See the letter from Whitman to Kennedy of May 24, 1885[back]

3. Whitman's question mark. [back]


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