Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 13 December 1889

Date: December 13, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: owu.00014

Source: The Bayley-Whitman Collection, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH. 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: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ryan Furlong, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock



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Camden
Evn'g Dec: 13 '891

All goes on the same & fairly. Have been out in the sun & mild temperature a good part of afternoon. Sent on out a little poemet (welcoming Brazilian Republic) to McClure's N Y Syndicate—& rec'd money for it.2 So Browning3 is dead—(I have never read much B & don't have any inherent opinion)—How are you & Mrs: K?4


Walt Whitman


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: Sloane Kennedy | Belmont Mass:. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Dec 13 | 8PM | 89. [back]

2. Whitman is referring to the poem ultimately titled "A Christmas Greeting." In his December 3, 1889, letter to Richard Maurice Bucke the poet refers to the poem as "the little 'Northern Star-Group to a Southern' (welcome to Brazilian Republic)." This would become the poem's subtitle: "From a Northern Star-Group to a Southern. 1889–'90." See also "[A North Star]," a manuscript draft of this poem.  [back]

3. Robert Browning (1812–1889) was an English poet known for his dramatic monologues, including "Porphyria's Lover" and "My Last Duchess." Browning was also the husband of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1806). [back]

4. William Sloane Kennedy married Adeline Ella Lincoln of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1883; they lived for forty years in a house they built in Belmont, Massachusetts.  [back]


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