Selected Criticism

Denison, Flora MacDonald (1867–1921)
Kalnin, Martha A.
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Flora Merrill grew up in rural Canada, and in 1892 she married Howard Denison. She worked as a businesswoman, a journalist, and a suffragist. Though Denison is best known for her efforts in the women's suffrage movement, she also established a Whitman club and edited The Sunset of Bon Echo, the club's journal.

Denison was profoundly influenced by Whitman's poetry. She saw Whitman as a self-expressive, democratic poet who wanted to destroy systems based on the inequality of men (and women). Her position as a regular columnist ("Flora MacDonald") for the Toronto Sunday World provided her the opportunity to disseminate Whitman's ideals and to speak for women and labor groups. After her term as president of the Canadian Suffrage Association (1911–1914), Denison founded Bon Echo, a resort for Whitman enthusiasts, on her own land as a Canadian monument to Whitman, believing that "Canada needs Whitman" (Denison, "Whitman" 4). She also edited Sunset, occasionally contributing articles about Whitman which reflect Whitman's stylistic influence. By founding a society for Whitman, providing a meeting place for it, and producing a journal, Denison helped to increase the popularity of Whitman's poetry.


Denison, Flora MacDonald. "Flora MacDonald." The Sunset of Bon Echo 1.1 (1916): 7–9.

———. "Whitman." The Sunset of Bon Echo 1.1 (1916): 3–4.

Denison, Merrill. "Flora MacDonald Denison, Bon Echo, and Whitman." Walt Whitman Birthplace Bulletin 1 (1957): 17–19.

"Denison, Mrs. Flora MacDonald." The Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Ed. W.A. McKay. 4th ed. Toronto: Macmillan, 1978. 206–207.

Stafford, Albert Ernest. "Crusts and Crumbs." The Sunset of Bon Echo 1.1 (1916): 12–15.


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