Selected Criticism

Whitman, Hannah Brush (1753–1834)
Kohn, Denise
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Hannah Brush Whitman, married to Jesse Whitman, was Walt Whitman's paternal grandmother. She worked as a schoolteacher and was skilled in needlework.

She impressed the young Walt with her stories of the family's patriotism during the Revolutionary War and their prosperous past as landholders on Long Island. She told Walt about his unconventional great-grandmother, Sarah White Whitman, who chewed tobacco and rode like a man out into the fields to oversee the slaves. Hannah and Jesse Whitman were the last in the family to own a substantial tract of land.

Walt Whitman warmly admired his grandmother. Jesse Whitman died before he was born, so Hannah Whitman was an important source of information to him about his family's past.


Allen, Gay Wilson. The Solitary Singer: A Critical Biography of Walt Whitman. 1955. Rev. ed. 1967. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1985.

Kaplan, Justin. Walt Whitman: A Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980.

Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995.


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