Selected Criticism

Saturday Press
Bawcom, Amy M.
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Founded in October 1858, by Henry Clapp, the Saturday Press was perhaps best known for its publication of works by American Bohemians. On 24 December 1859, on its front page, the periodical published Whitman's "A Child's Reminiscence," later retitled "A Word Out of the Sea" and then, finally, "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking." Occupying two columns, the poem was described by Clapp (in words possibly supplied by the poet himself) as a "curious warble" and a "wild and plaintive song, well-enveloped, and eluding definition . . . like the effect of music" (qtd. in Allen 231). In the 7 January 1860 issue of the Press, Whitman himself responded to an attack on the poem that had appeared in the Cincinnati Daily Commercial. At the same time he announced a forthcoming edition of Leaves of Grass (that is, the third, or 1860, edition), maintaining that its popularity would surely spread from literary circles to the general public and claiming that thousands of copies would be needed, especially in the "great West." Clapp, too, promoted the 1860 Leaves, stating in the Press on 28 April that large orders had been placed already. In the 9 June 1860 issue of the journal, Mary A. Chilton and a woman identifying herself as C.C.P. defended Whitman's purity in their description of their own innocent readings of his poems. According to David Reynolds, between 24 December 1859 and 15 December 1860, the Saturday Press printed twenty-five pieces about or by Whitman. This abundant publication kept his name in the public eye.


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

Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines 1850–1865. Vol. 2. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1938.

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


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