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Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 8 January 1885

Welcome letter—return'd books, &c. just rec'd (with slip—thanks)1—Am feeling well—Fine & sunny to-day—Have had a pleasant two-hours visit from Edmund Gosse2

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. On January 7 William Sloane Kennedy returned a copy of Burroughs's book which he had read on the trip from Camden to Belmont, Mass.: "I shall cherish the memory of that blessed January 2nd '85 to the end of my days. My dear Whitman—I want you to regard me as a sort of son; tell me whenever I can do anything for you; let me loan you 5.00 if you get in a pinch, (& I have it) . . . & behave handsomely & intimately & affectionately toward me." See also William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896), 4. [back]
  • 2. See the letter from Whitman to Edmund Gosse of December 31, 1884. [back]
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