Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 17 February 1887

Date: February 17, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02910

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: Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock



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Camden1
Feb. 17 '87
2 p m

I continue much the same. Shall make up a little budget (perhaps trunk or box) of what MS memoranda or relics I think may be worth while—for you2—Fine sunny weather here to day, & I have been out in it with my horse & Wagon by myself, two hours—O'Connor3 has gone to Southern California—the poor fellow I fear is in a bad way4

Write often—
W W


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: W. Sloane Kennedy | Belmont | Mass:. It is postmarked: Camden | Feb | 17 | 3 PM | 1887 | N.J. [back]

2. Whitman is referring to material for Kennedy's study of the poet. [back]

3. William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication, published in 1866. For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Walt Whitman was informed on February 11, 1887 by Charles Eldridge of O'Connor's trip to California, where he was staying with his brother-in-law, Dr. Channing. Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke wrote to Walt Whitman about O'Connor's illness on February 20, 1887[back]


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