Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 22 September 1891

Date: September 22, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: med.00944

Source: The location of the manuscript is unknown. Edwin Haviland Miller derives his transcription from a transcript published in Reminscences of Walt Whitman (London: Paisley, 1896), 68. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961—1977), 5:246. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong and Stephanie Blalock

Sept. 22 '91

Love to all inquiring Boston friends.1

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). Apparently Kennedy had 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, apparently the last message from the poet to Kennedy, was written in response to the latter's request on September 20, 1891: "Shd be glad of one of those little bulletin cards from you. I got used to them I feel desolate without them." In what was probably his last letter to Whitman, on October 30, 1891, Kennedy recalled "those divine days I spent in companionship of the noblest of books L. of G. & those happy letters back & forth between you and me." [back]


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