Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 24 July 1889

Date: July 24, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03032

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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I1 am going to let Fredk Wilson2 look at the MS 3 again. He has never refused it, you know.


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 message from Kennedy to Whitman, which may be a postscript to a letter that has yet to be located, is written on the verso of an envelope addressed to Whitman. The verso of the envelope that includes the note is displayed first and has been rotated for easier reading of Kennedy's message. The following image is the recto of the envelope, and Kennedy has written the word "over" twice, at the top and bottom of the envelope. The letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Belmont | Jul 14 | Mass; Camden, N.J. | JL | 25 | 9am | 1889. [back]

2. Frederick W. Wilson was a member of the Glasgow firm of Wilson & McCormick that published the 1883 British edition of Specimen Days and Collect[back]

3. Kennedy is referring to his manuscript "Walt Whitman, Poet of Humanity." Kennedy had reported in a letter to Whitman of January 2, 1888 that Frederick W. Wilson was willing to publish the study. Kennedy's manuscript eventually became two books, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896) and The Fight of a Book for the World (1926). Wilson promised to return the manuscript in his letter to Kennedy of February 1, 1888. Alexander Gardner (1821–1882) of Paisley, Scotland, a publisher who reissued a number of books by and about Whitman, ultimately published Reminiscences of Walt Whitman in 1896 after a long and contentious battle with Kennedy over editing the book. [back]


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