Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 9 July 1890

Date: July 9, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03060

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, Ian Faith, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, and Stephanie Blalock

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

St Paul Minn1
July 9. '90

Yr two cards just rec'd.2 The books had better be sent to Chas. E. Hurd,3 literary editor, or kept till my return. Had grand visit of 3 days with Dr. Bucke.4 It puts me rapport now with so much concerning him & you. Thank you for urging me to go. I fear I can't see you on my return, as my ticket takes me back (excursion ticket, via northern N. Y. So sorry. Am unwell (stomach & cold &c.). change of water & night-air.


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).


1. This postal card is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Saint Paul, MN | JU 29 | 7AM | 90; Camden, N.J. | Jul | 13 | 9AM | 1890 | Rec'd. [back]

2. Whitman had written to Kennedy on June 30, 1890 and July 2, 1890[back]

3. Charles E. Hurd (1833–1910) of New Hampshire was a jouralist and author. He served as the literature editor for the Boston Transcript newspaper from 1874 to 1901. [back]

4. Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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

Support the Archive | About the Archive

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