Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 6 October 1890

Date: October 6, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03086

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, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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Dear Walt1

The Dutch piece2 is all right, coming out in time; Clement3 is all right—a man—but very timid & slow in pushing the piece.

I write little bits ("jottings") &c every week for the paper. Have had some bad nervous set-backs since I came home from the West—over-pressure of work. But have got more help now & guess will be all right in future. Squirrels are going it in the hickories like Jehu this morn'g. Trowbridge4 still in Europe.


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 letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked Belmont | OCT | 6 | 1890 | Mass., Camden, N.J. | OCT | 7 | 9 AM | 1890 | REC'D. [back]

2. In a letter to Whitman on August 29,1890, Kennedy suggests publishing a piece in The Critic, entitled "Walt Whitman's Dutch Traits." His "Dutch Traits of Walt Whitman" was published in The Conservator 1 (February 1891), 90–91 and reprinted in In Re Walt Whitman, ed. Horace Traubel, et al. (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1893), 195–199. [back]

3. Edward Clement was the editor of the Boston Evening Transcript, where Kennedy worked and where he originally intended to publish his article on Whitman's Dutch traits. [back]

4. John Townsend Trowbridge (1827–1916) was a novelist, poet, author of juvenile stories, and anti-slavery reformer. Though Trowbridge became familiar with Whitman's poetry in 1855, he did not meet Whitman until 1860, when the poet was in Boston overseeing the Thayer and Eldridge edition of Leaves of Grass. For several weeks in 1863, Trowbridge stayed with Whitman in Washington, D.C., along with John Burroughs and William D. O'Connor. [back]


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