Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 - March 26, 1892) was born of Quaker parentage
near Huntington, Long Island. He taught in various Long Island schools and worked for several
newspapers, including the Brooklyn Eagle. He published some of his writings, but by his
mid-thirties had still not displayed the slightest hint of his unique talent and vision. He published
Leaves of Grass himself in 1855. He mailed a copy to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who immediately
recognized the book's unusual worth and wrote Whitman a letter with the famous line so many
writers have since wished to hear: "I greet you at the beginning of a great career."
Whitman was enormously affected by the Civil War, and published a series of wartime poems
under the title Drum-Taps. These poems, like many others, were eventually folded into Leaves of
Grass, which Whitman added to throughout his life, publishing nine different editions. By the end
of his life Whitman was a tremendous literary celebrity.