Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

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

Date: November 5, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03054

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, Breanna Himschoot, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock



page image
image 1
page image
image 2


Belmont
Nov 5. 89

good morning.
to W. W.

Fred. Wilson1 writes me that if he publishes I must pay cost of production. I can't, so I write him to return the MS. to me.2 I must wait till I get able. I "some" expect a little wad of money from an uncle who left his estate to revert to his nephews & nieces on the death of his wife.

I was very much impressed by the affectionate personal confessions of the dinner book.3

bye bye, dear friend
affec. & revere-ingly
W. S. K.


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. 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]

2. 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]

3. The notes and addresses that were delivered at Whitman's seventieth birthday celebration on May 31, 1889 in Camden, were collected and edited by Horace Traubel. The volume was titled Camden's Compliment to Walt Whitman, and it included a photo of Sidney Morse's 1887 clay bust of Whitman as the frontispiece. The book was published in 1889 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. [back]


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.