Whitman, Walt (1819 - 1892)

Biography: 

Born in Huntington, Long Island, on May 31, 1819, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Walt Whitman was the second eldest of nine children. Out of school as early as 13, he soon started work as a typesetter, from 1836 to 1841 taught in schools, and thereafter worked as a journalist with many newspapers and magazines, becoming editor of the Democratic Brooklyn Eagle 1846-48 and of the Brooklyn Times 1857-59. His greatest work, Leaves of Grass (at first just 12 poems in 1855), was likely written in years when he assisted his father building houses in Brooklyn. Whitman subsequently republished, revised, and added to this collection in 1856, 1860, 1860, 1867, 1871, 1876, 1881-82, 1882, 1888-89, and 1891-92. During the Civil War he lived in Washington and devoted himself for years to helping wounded soldiers. His homoerotic nature, his admiration for manly love of men, had made him controversial. By the publication of Drum Taps (1865), Whitman had found work as a government clerk. His last great poetry volume, Passage to India, was published in 1871, although later three more volumes appeared: Two Rivulets (1876), November Boughs (1888), and Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891). Whitman fell ill from a stroke, and lost his mother, both in 1873. He had travelled widely before that, and he did so also after 1876. Famous and infamous on both sides of the Atlantic, Whitman died on March 26, 1892. See also

  • Collected Writings, ed. Gay Wilson Allen and E. Sculley Bradley (New York University Press, 1961-); PS 3200 .F61 Robarts Library.
  • Correspondence, ed. Edwin H. Miller (New York University Press, 1961-77); PS 3231 A3 1961.
  • Drum-taps (1865) and Sequel to Drum-taps (1865-66). A Facsimile Reproduction, ed. F. DeWolfe Miller (Gainesville: Scholars' Facsimiles, 1959). PS 3211 .A1 1865C
  • Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman; reproduced from the first edition (1855), introduced by Clifton Joseph Furness (New York: Facsimile Text Society, 1939). PS 3201 1855 .A Robarts Library
  • Walt Whitman's Blue Book: the 1860-61 Leaves of grass containing his manuscript additions and revisions (New York: New York Public Library, 1968). PS 3201 1860 .C
  • Whitman's Manuscripts: Leaves of Grass (1860), a parallel text, ed. Fredson Bowers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965). PS 3201 1955
  • Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer: A Critical Biography of Walt Whitman (New York: Macmillan, 1955). PS 3231 .A69
Given Name: 
Walt
Family Name: 
Whitman
Birth Date: 
May 31, 1819
Death Date: 
March 26, 1892
Nationality: 
Literary Period: 
Literary Movement: