Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 12 March 1885

Date: March 12, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02601

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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Belmont Mass.1

Dear W. W.

How about the article on Ars Poetica?2 Have you thought about it? rec'd it? lost it? I will send stamps for return if you find that, on the whole, nothing can be done with it in Philadelphia. Heard from Dr Bucke recently. He asked what had become of my article. Paper rec'd [(Camden)?] Thanks

W.S. Kennedy.

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 postal card is addressed: Mr Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle St | Camden | N. Jersey. It is postmarked: [illegible] | MAR | [illegible] | MASS; CAMDEN, N.J. | MAR | 12 | 10 AM | 1885 | REC'D. [back]

2. On January 16 Kennedy sent the manuscript of "The New Ars Poetica," in which he attempted to defend Whitman's poetic style. On June 2 he accepted Whitman's suggestion of expanding his article. This essay became part of The Poet as A Craftsman (see the letter from Whitman to Kennedy of December 2, 1885). [back]


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