Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 5 August [1885]

Date: August 5, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00805

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), 3:400–401. 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
Aug: 5

Your card rec'd some days since—I had a sun stroke two weeks ago—makes me weak since (legs and bones like gelatine)—but I guess I am recuperating—My Phila: publisher McKay was just over here to pay me the income on the last six months' sales of my two Vols. L of G. and S Days—the am't was $22: & six cts.1


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 card flattered Kennedy, who observed fervidly in August: "Your confidential item ab't royalties also makes me glad & wrings my heart at the same time." He enclosed $5, which, he declared, "is a pure business debt. $5000. represents my soul indebtedness to Walt Whitman, who is the only god I at present worship apart from the Universe as a whole." [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.