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William Sloane Kennedy to Walt Whitman, 5 September 1889

 loc.03035.002.jpg Dear Dad:

I wish I cd give your dear hand a good grip to-day, I am now reading 1st proof at Riverside Press,—a nice berth for me. I have abt 10 minutes a day to my self! I find that that Gardner2 publishes highly respectable religious books (not our cosmic=pantheistic kind, of course)! I suppose Fredk. Wilson3 has my MS now.4 Am going to take a vacation in a month. Do drop me a line dear & revered papa, & relieve my anxiety abt you.

W. S. Kennedy.  loc.03035.001.jpg

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 postal card is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Camden, NJ | Sep 7 | 10AM | 1889 | Rec'd. Whitman sent this postal card to Canadian physician and psychiatrist Richard Maurice Bucke, including it as an enclosure with his letter to Bucke of September 6–8 1889. [back]
  • 2. Alexander Gardner (1821–1882) of Paisley, Scotland, was a publisher who reissued a number of books by and about Whitman; he ultimately published William Sloane Kennedy's Reminiscences of Walt Whitman in 1896 after a long and contentious battle with Kennedy over editing the book. Gardner published and co-edited the Scottish Review from 1882 to 1886. [back]
  • 3. Frederick W. Wilson was a member of the Glasgow firm of Wilson & McCormick that published the 1883 British edition of Specimen Days and Collect. [back]
  • 4. Kennedy's manuscript, "Walt Whitman, the Poet of Humanity," eventually became two books, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (1896) and The Fight of a Book for the World (1926). [back]
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