Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 23 June [1886]

Date: June 23, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00813

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), 4:35. 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

June 23d—p m

Yours of 21st rec'd—acknowledging mine containing note of introduction to Symonds. I suppose you rec'd the big MS of yours,1 (concordance of criticisms &c)—I returned some ten days ago—but you havn't acknowledged it—all right & satisfactory the way you propose. Take your time, & follow out & fulfil what the spirit moves you to make. I will authenticate statistics &c—


When you address me, always write the New Jersey out in full on envelope. I am not at all afraid of my handwriting appearing on the printer's copy—

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 manuscript was the first of several drafts of what became two books, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (London: Alexander Gardner, 1896) and The Fight of a Book for the World (West Yarmouth, Massachusetts: The Stonecroft Press, 1926). [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.