Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 28 March 1889

Date: March 28, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02995

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.

Contributors to digital file: Kirby Little, Caterina Bernardini, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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I see that Appleton new Dic. of Amer. Biog. (six vols) has a very good article on W. W., with portraits.2 Coolish spring day to-day. My window hyacinths in fragrant bloom. (honey bunches)

W. S. K.

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). Apparently Kennedy had 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: Walt Whitman | Camden | 328 Mickle N. Jersey. It is postmarked: BOSTON. MASS | MAR 28 | [illegible] | 1889; CAMDEN, N.J. | MAR | 29 | 10 AM | [illegible] | REC'D. [back]

2. Andrew James Symington's article on Whitman appeared in volume six of Appleton's Cyclopaedia of American Biography(1889); the article was later often used as the basis for many of Whitman's obituary notices. [back]


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