Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 19 August [1886]

Date: August 19, [1886]

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00822

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), 4:43–44. 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, Marie Ernster, Stephanie Blalock, and Amanda J. Axley

Aug: 19 P M

Yours of yesterday rec'd.1 I approve of the Chatto & Windus2 plan, & of the three (or two) years' guarantee.—I am glad you are going to let me have printed proofs (say second proofs, after the first is read by copy & corrected) & shall count on receiving them—All ab't same as usual with me—


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. See Kennedy's letter to Whitman of August 18, 1886[back]

2. As Kennedy's letter to Whitman of August 18, 1886, explains, Kennedy had offered Chatto & Windus publishers sole rights to his planned book on Whitman (then called "Walt Whitman, the Poet of Humanity") so that they could sell it in Britain for three years before he would make it available in the United States. Chatto & Windus had an interest in Whitman and published the second edition of William Michael Rossetti's Poems by Walt Whitman in 1886. [back]


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