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Author photo. Photo by G. Frank E. Pearsall<br>Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?100462">NYPL Digital Gallery</a><br>(image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Photo by G. Frank E. Pearsall
Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery
(image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

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Walt Whitman was born on Long Island and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a carpenter. He left school when he was 11 years old to take a variety of jobs. By the time he was 15, Whitman was living on his own in New York City, working as a printer and writing short pieces for newspapers. He spent a few years teaching, but most of his work was either in journalism or politics. Gradually, Whitman became a regular contributor to a variety of Democratic Party newspapers and reviews, and early in his career established a rather eccentric way of life, spending a great deal of time walking the streets, absorbing life and talking with laborers. Extremely fond of the opera, he used his press pass to spend many evenings in the theater. In 1846, Whitman became editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, a leading Democratic newspaper. Two years later, he was fired for opposing the expansion of slavery into the west. Whitman's career as a poet began in 1885, with the publication of the first edition of his poetry collection, Leaves of Grass. The book was self-published (Whitman probably set some of the type himself), and despite his efforts to publicize it - including writing his own reviews - few people read it. One reader who did appreciate it was essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote a letter greeting Whitman at "the beginning of a great career." Whitman's poetry was unlike any verse that had ever been seen. Written without rhyme, in long, loose lines, filled with poetic lists and exclamations taken from Whitman's reading of the Bible, Homer, and Asian poets, these poems were totally unlike conventional poetry. Their subject matter, too, was unusual - the celebration of a free-spirited individualist whose love for all things and people seemed at times disturbingly sensual. In 1860, with the publication of the third edition on Leaves of Grass, Whitman alienated conventional thinkers and writers even more. When he went to Boston to meet Emerson, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, essayist Oliver Wendell Holmes, and poet James Russell Lowell, they all objected to the visit. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Whitman's attentions turned almost exclusively to that conflict. Some of the greatest poetry of his career, including Drum Taps (1865) and his magnificent elegy for President Abraham Lincoln, "When Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" (1865), was written during this period. In 1862, his brother George was wounded in battle, and Whitman went to Washington to nurse him. He continued as a hospital volunteer throughout the war, nursing other wounded soldiers and acting as a benevolent father-figure and confidant. Parts of his memoir Specimen Days (1882) record this period. After the war, Whitman stayed on in Washington, working as a government clerk and continuing to write. In 1873 he suffered a stroke and retired to Camden, New Jersey, where he lived as an invalid for the rest of his life. Ironically, his reputation began to grow during this period, as the public became more receptive to his poetic and personal eccentricities. Whitman tried to capture the spirit of America in a new poetic form. His poetry is rough, colloquial, sweeping in its vistas - a poetic equivalent of the vast land and its varied peoples. Critic Louis Untermeyer has written, "In spite of Whitman's perplexing mannerisms, the poems justify their boundless contradictions. They shake themselves free from rant and bombastic audacities and rise into the clear air of major poetry. Such poetry is not large but self-assured; it knows, as Whitman asserted, the amplitude of time and laughs at dissolution. It contains continents; it unfolds the new heaven and new earth of the Western world." American poetry has never been the same since Whitman tore it away from its formal and thematic constraints, and he is considered by virtually all critics today to be one of the greatest poets the country has ever produced. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from Leaves of Grass
… (more)
Leaves of Grass 8,923 copies, 74 reviews
Leaves of Grass (1855 edition) 2,604 copies, 14 reviews
The Complete Poems 1,175 copies, 5 reviews
Whitman: Poetry and Prose 1,147 copies, 8 reviews
Leaves of Grass (1891-92 Edition) 876 copies, 6 reviews
Song of Myself 730 copies, 14 reviews
Selected Poems [ed. Appelbaum] 535 copies, 2 reviews
Selections from Leaves of Grass 263 copies, 3 reviews
Specimen Days 149 copies, 1 review
On the Beach at Night Alone 140 copies, 7 reviews
Poems By Walt Whitman 132 copies, 1 review
Memoranda During the War 110 copies, 3 reviews
Selected Poems [ed. Crasnow] 90 copies, 2 reviews
Drum taps 73 copies
Leaves of Grass (1860 edition) 56 copies, 1 review
A Choice of Whitman's Verse 49 copies, 1 review
I Hear America Singing 44 copies, 3 reviews
Voyages 41 copies
Democratic Vistas 39 copies, 1 review
Poetry for Kids: Walt Whitman 38 copies, 4 reviews
The Whitman Reader 31 copies, 1 review
Nothing But Miracles 20 copies, 1 review
The Portable Walt Whitman 17 copies, 1 review
American Bard 11 copies
Cálamo 8 copies
Whitman 8 copies, 1 review
November Boughs 7 copies, 3 reviews
Two prefaces 7 copies
Overhead the Sun 7 copies, 1 review
Digte 5 copies
Gresstrå 1 5 copies
Canto a mí mismo 4 copies, 2 reviews
Canti d'addio 3 copies
Rohulehed 2 copies
Utvalda dagar 2 copies
Short Stories 2 copies
Werke 1 copy
Eidolons 1 copy
Lincoln 1 copy
Poesías 1 copy
La quercia 1 copy
diVersi 1 copy
Kosmos 1 copy
Calamus 1 copy
One Hundred and One Famous Poems (Contributor, some editions) 1,738 copies, 17 reviews
Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama (Contributor, some editions) 846 copies, 6 reviews
The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (Contributor) 541 copies, 3 reviews
The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis (Contributor) 469 copies, 11 reviews
A Treasury of the World's Best Loved Poems (Contributor) 452 copies, 4 reviews
Prefaces and Prologues to Famous Books (Contributor) 447 copies, 1 review
A Pocket Book of Modern Verse (Contributor, some editions) 404 copies, 1 review
The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: A Poetry Anthology (Contributor) 350 copies, 3 reviews
Ten Poems to Change Your Life (Contributor) 309 copies, 4 reviews
Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out (Contributor) 290 copies, 7 reviews
Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (Contributor) 254 copies, 4 reviews
The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume 1 (Contributor, some editions) 237 copies
The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse (Contributor) 211 copies, 2 reviews
A Treasury of Poetry for Young People (Contributor) 171 copies, 1 review
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (Contributor) 138 copies, 1 review
Life in the Iron Mills [Bedford Cultural Editions] (Contributor) 124 copies, 2 reviews
A Comprehensive Anthology of American Poetry (Contributor) 121 copies, 2 reviews
The Norton Book of Travel (Contributor) 105 copies, 1 review
The Standard Book of British and American Verse (Contributor) 99 copies, 1 review
Norton Book of Friendship (Contributor) 87 copies
Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? (Contributor) 85 copies, 5 reviews
Poets of the Civil War (Contributor) 83 copies, 1 review
Summer: A Spiritual Biography of the Season (Contributor) 32 copies, 2 reviews
Strange Glory (Contributor) 19 copies
AQA Anthology (Author, some editions) 18 copies
Racconti Gialli (Author) 18 copies
Ellery Queen's Poetic Justice (Author, some editions) 17 copies
The Mark of Zorro [1920 film] (Actor) 11 copies, 1 review
American Poems 1779-1900 (Contributor) 11 copies
Trees: A Celebration (Contributor) 11 copies
Men And Women: The Poetry Of Love (Contributor) 7 copies
Onthebus No. 8 and 9 (Contributor) 6 copies
La poesía inglesa románticos y victorianos (Contributor) 4 copies, 1 review
The California quarterly (Contributor, some editions) 1 copy

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