Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 11 April 1890

Date: April 11, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00943

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 5:37. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden
Ev'g April 11 '901

Still the grip & badly day & night—sometimes most strangles me—I fight it as if a great serpent, worst late at night—How are you & getting along?—Astonishing [what] one can stand when put to your trumps—Transcripts2 come regularly.

Love to you & Mrs: K3
Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
William Sloane Kennedy (1850–1929) was on the staff of the Philadelphia American and later published biographies of Longfellow and Whittier (Dictionary of American Biography). Apparently Kennedy had called on the poet for the first time on November 21, 1880 (William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman [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).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Sloane Kennedy | Belmont | Mass:. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Apr 11 | 8 PM | 90. [back]

2. Kennedy frequently sent Whitman copies of the Boston Transcript, where he worked as a proofreader. [back]

3. Kennedy had married Adeline Ella Lincoln (d. 1923) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, on June 17, 1883. Their son Mortimer died in infancy. [back]


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