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Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy, 11 April 1890

Still the grip & badly day & night—sometimes most strangles me—I fight it as if a great serpent, worst late at night—How are you & getting along?—Astonishing [what] one can stand when put to your trumps—Transcripts2 come regularly.

Love to you & Mrs: K3 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. This letter is addressed: Sloane Kennedy | Belmont | Mass:. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Apr 11 | 8 PM | 90. [back]
  • 2. Kennedy frequently sent Whitman copies of the Boston Transcript, where he worked as a proofreader. [back]
  • 3. Kennedy had married Adeline Ella Lincoln (d. 1923) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, on June 17, 1883. Their son Mortimer died in infancy. [back]
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