Skip to main content

Whitman's Short Fiction

Whitman published many pieces of short fiction before the first publication of Leaves of Grass in 1855, and these were widely reprinted. For a complete list of reprints and citations, see the bibliography of publications and reprints of Whitman's fiction.

The following images and transcriptions are, unless otherwise noted, based on the first periodical publication. Whitman revised several of these stories and reprinted them in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle while he was editor of that paper, and he later included many of them in the "Pieces in Early Youth" section of Specimen Days and Collect (1882). We currently provide images and transcriptions of additional versions in cases where revisions were substantive. We also provide images and transcriptions for two versions of "Arrow-Tip," a longer piece that Whitman would dub an "Original Novelette" when he published it in installments in the Brooklyn Eagle. Eventually, we hope to provide images and transcriptions for versions of all of these stories as they appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle. In the meantime, readers should consult the major previous collection of Whitman's short fiction, Thomas L. Brasher, ed., The Collected Writings of Walt Whitman: The Early Poems and the Fiction (New York: New York University Press, 1963), for versions based on "that which can be presumed to have been the last printed version authorized by Whitman" (xix). Brasher also includes footnotes describing the differences between the original publication and the version he provides (not including changes in punctuation). For a more detailed discussion of our editorial rationale, see the introduction below, as well as the "Fiction" section of our editorial policy statement.

For more information about the publication, circulation, and reception of the short fiction, see Stephanie Blalock and Nicole Gray, "Introduction to Walt Whitman's Short Fiction"

Death in the School-Room

Wild Frank's Return

The Child's Champion

Bervance: or, Father and Son

The Tomb-Blossoms

The Last of the Sacred Army

The Child-Ghost

Reuben's Last Wish

A Legend of Life and Love

The Angel of Tears

The Reformed

The Death of Wind-Foot

Lingave's Temptation

The Madman

The Love of the Four Students

Eris; A Spirit Record

My Boys and Girls

The Fireman's Dream

Dumb Kate

The Little Sleighers


Shirval: A Tale of Jerusalem

Richard Parker's Widow

Revenge and Requital

Some Fact-Romances

The Shadow and the Light of a Young Man's Soul

Back to top