Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 21 May 1891

Date: May 21, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03164

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 22 1891," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Cristin Noonan, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock



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The1 good-bye sheets rec'd,2 & read through this eve, & notice written—what pretty typography! I enjoyed all think The Sunset Breeze 3 the best of all.

W. S. K.

I wrote Idyl of the Lilac other day Tues [paper?] p7


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Belmont | MAY | 21 | 1891 | MASS; CAMDEN, N.J. | MAY | 22 | 9 AM | 1891 | REC'D. [back]

2. Kennedy is referring to the proofs for Whitman's book Good-Bye My Fancy (1891). Good-Bye My Fancy (1891) was Whitman's last miscellany, and it included both poetry and short prose works commenting on poetry, aging, and death, among other topics. Thirty-one poems from the book were later printed as "Good-Bye my Fancy 2d Annex" to Leaves of Grass (1891–1892), the last edition of Leaves of Grass published before Whitman's death in March 1892. For more information see, Donald Barlow Stauffer, "'Good-Bye my Fancy' (Second Annex) (1891)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Kennedy is referring to Whitman's poem, "To the Sunset Breeze," which was first published in Lippincott's in December 1890 and reprinted in Good-Bye My Fancy (1891). [back]


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