Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 5 September 1889

Date: September 5, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03035

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, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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Sept 5.1

Dear Dad:

I wish I cd give your dear hand a good grip to-day, I am now reading 1st proof at Riverside Press,—a nice berth for me. I have abt 10 minutes a day to my self! I find that that Gardner2 publishes highly respectable religious books (not our cosmic=pantheistic kind, of course)! I suppose Fredk. Wilson3 has my MS now.4 Am going to take a vacation in a month. Do drop me a line dear & revered papa, & relieve my anxiety abt you.


W. S. Kennedy.


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 postal card is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Camden, NJ | Sep 7 | 10AM | 1889 | Rec'd. Whitman sent this postal card to Canadian physician and psychiatrist Richard Maurice Bucke, including it as an enclosure with his letter to Bucke of September 6–8 1889.  [back]

2. Alexander Gardner (1821–1882) of Paisley, Scotland, was a publisher who reissued a number of books by and about Whitman; he ultimately published William Sloane Kennedy's Reminiscences of Walt Whitman in 1896 after a long and contentious battle with Kennedy over editing the book. Gardner published and co-edited the Scottish Review from 1882 to 1886. [back]

3. 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]

4. Kennedy's manuscript, "Walt Whitman, the Poet of Humanity," eventually became two books, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896) and The Fight of a Book for the World (1926). [back]


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