Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 2 December 1885

Date: December 2, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: rut.00003

Source: Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Editorial note: The annotation, "[This letter relates to what now forms a portion of Chap. III. of my "Walt Whitman." W.S.K]," is in the hand of William Sloane Kennedy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, Ian Faith, and Nicole Gray

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328 Mickle Street
Camden New Jersey
Dec. 2 '85 noon

Dear W S K

Your "the Poet as a Craftsman" seems the best statement possible of the modern scientific American point of view—as it certainly is the highest & deepest (complimentary) statement of my theory & practise in L of G—I only rec'd it an hour or so ago—so reserve most of what I have to say for another letter.1

—If you have them to spare, can you send copies by mail to following?

Wm M Rossetti, 5 Endsleigh Gardens London N W Eng
Prof. Edward Dowden, Temple Road, Winstead, Rathmines, Dublin, Ireland.
T W Rolleston, Dalgany, County Wicklow, Ireland
Lord Alfred Tennyson, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Eng.
J. Addington Symonds, Davos, Platz, Switzerland
Edward Carpenter, Millthorpe near Chesterfield, Eng.
Ernest Rhys, 59 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London, Eng
Dr Karl Knortz, 540 East 155th St, New York City
G. C. Macaulay, Rugby, England.
Richard Watson Gilder, Century office, Union Square, New York City
Wm D O'Connor, Life Saving Service, Washington D C
John Burroughs, West Park, Ulster Co. New York
Edmund C Stedman, author, New York City
Dr. R M Bucke, Asylum, London, Ontario, Canada
James Knowles, 1 Paternoster Square, London E C Eng:

—if you can send these, do it at your leisure—only let me know if you cannot send

—I am getting along middling well. Eyesight improved again ab't as well as of late years—Walking power quite gone—Spirits buoyant & hearty—

—The December sun is shining out wistfully as I finish, & I am going out in my wagon, for a two or three hours drive—

Walt Whitman

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).


1. The Poet as A Craftsman was printed as a twenty-page pamphlet by David McKay in 1886. [back]


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