Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 14 September [1886]

Date: September 14, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00824

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), 4:50. 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

Sept. 14

Know nothing of such an issue of L of G by any "antique bookseller" in Boston1—Doubt if it is worth tracing out, or noting—All goes on with me much the same—perfect weather here—I have been reading Cowley—well pleased—


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. Kennedy had learned from Whitman admirer John Townsend Trowbridge of "a seller of antique books in Boston who consented to put his imprint on a small edition of Leaves of Grass" (see William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [1896], 17n). See also Faint Clews & Indirections, ed. Clarence Gohdes and Rollo G. Silver (1949), 74n. [back]


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