Glossary entry for
Whitman, Walt

The following extract is taken from an old web page put up Levi Asher, as part of his Web project on Jack Kerouac and the Beats:

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.

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