Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 1 May 1891

Date: May 1, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03162

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "see notes May 2d 1891," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock



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The1 paper I send (Xn Register)2 has that which justifies yr prediction in L. of Grass—that the West wd prove the place where yr poems wd be understood and accepted most completely.

Traubel's3 article in the Boston Mag.4 is noticed by the papers I see.


W.S.K

Frau5 & I have bad colds.


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: Belmont | May | 1 | 1891 | MA [illegible]; Camden, N.J. | May | 2 | 9AM | 1891 | Rec'd. [back]

2. Kennedy sent a copy of The Christian Register with his postal card. See Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Saturday, May 2, 1891[back]

3. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the mid-1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Kennedy is referring to Horace Traubel's "Walt Whitman at Date," which was published in the New England Magazine 4 (May 1891): 275–292. [back]

5. Kennedy's wife was Adeline Ella Lincoln (d. 1923) of Cambridge, Massachusetts. They married on June 17, 1883. The couple's son Mortimer died in infancy. [back]


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