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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 9,635 copies, 75 reviews
Leaves of Grass (1855 edition) 2,748 copies, 15 reviews
The Complete Poems 1,275 copies, 5 reviews
Whitman: Poetry and Prose 1,207 copies, 8 reviews
Leaves of Grass (1891-92 Edition) 896 copies, 6 reviews
Song of Myself 805 copies, 19 reviews
Selected Poems [ed. Appelbaum] 531 copies, 2 reviews
Selections from Leaves of Grass 272 copies, 3 reviews
On the Beach at Night Alone 175 copies, 7 reviews
Specimen Days 159 copies, 2 reviews
Memoranda During the War 115 copies, 4 reviews
Selected Poems [ed. Crasnow] 92 copies, 2 reviews
Drum taps 86 copies
Leaves of Grass (1860 edition) 68 copies, 2 reviews
A Choice of Whitman's Verse 51 copies, 1 review
I Hear America Singing 51 copies, 3 reviews
Poetry for Kids: Walt Whitman 47 copies, 5 reviews
Voyages 43 copies
Democratic Vistas 42 copies, 2 reviews
The Whitman Reader 31 copies, 1 review
Nothing But Miracles 20 copies, 1 review
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Cálamo 10 copies
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Overhead the Sun 8 copies, 1 review
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diVersi 1 copy
Paroles du Nouveau Monde 1 copy, 1 review
FIJE BARI 1 copy
Manahatta 1 copy
Drum Tabs 1 copy
CALAMO 1 copy
Werke 1 copy
Eidolons 1 copy
Poesías 1 copy
Lincoln 1 copy
One Hundred and One Famous Poems (Contributor, some editions) 1,831 copies, 17 reviews
The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (Contributor) 1,175 copies, 9 reviews
Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama (Contributor, some editions) 880 copies, 7 reviews
The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (Contributor) 570 copies, 3 reviews
The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis (Contributor) 516 copies, 11 reviews
Prefaces and Prologues to Famous Books (Contributor) 495 copies, 1 review
A Treasury of the World's Best Loved Poems (Contributor) 493 copies, 4 reviews
A Pocket Book of Modern Verse (Contributor, some editions) 421 copies, 1 review
Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography (Associated Name) 396 copies, 4 reviews
The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: A Poetry Anthology (Contributor) 369 copies, 3 reviews
Ten Poems to Change Your Life (Contributor) 333 copies, 4 reviews
Literature: The Human Experience (Contributor) 327 copies
Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out (Contributor) 321 copies, 7 reviews
Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (Contributor) 264 copies, 4 reviews
The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume 1 (Contributor, some editions) 246 copies
The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse (Contributor) 227 copies, 2 reviews
A Treasury of Poetry for Young People (Contributor) 190 copies, 2 reviews
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (Contributor) 155 copies, 1 review
Life in the Iron Mills [Bedford Cultural Editions] (Contributor) 137 copies, 2 reviews
A Comprehensive Anthology of American Poetry (Contributor) 126 copies, 2 reviews
The Norton Book of Travel (Contributor) 108 copies, 1 review
The Standard Book of British and American Verse (Contributor) 105 copies, 1 review
The Norton Book of Friendship (Contributor) 92 copies
Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? (Contributor) 91 copies, 5 reviews
Poets of the Civil War (Contributor) 89 copies, 1 review
The Ecopoetry Anthology (Contributor) 45 copies, 1 review
Summer: A Spiritual Biography of the Season (Contributor) 38 copies, 2 reviews
Strange Glory (Contributor) 22 copies
Racconti Gialli (Author) 20 copies
AQA Anthology (Author, some editions) 19 copies
Ellery Queen's Poetic Justice (Contributor, some editions) 18 copies
The Mark of Zorro [1920 film] (Actor) 14 copies, 1 review
Trees: A Celebration (Contributor) 13 copies
American Poems 1779-1900 (Contributor) 11 copies
Men and Women: The Poetry of Love (Contributor) 7 copies
Onthebus No. 8 and 9 (Contributor) 6 copies
A Gathering of Ghosts: A Treasury (Contributor) 4 copies
La poesía inglesa románticos y victorianos (Contributor) 4 copies, 1 review
The California quarterly (Contributor, some editions) 1 copy

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Short biography
Walter Whitman Jr. (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was controversial in his time, particularly his 1855 poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sensuality.

Born in Huntington on Long Island, Whitman resided in Brooklyn as a child and through much of his career. At the age of 11, he left formal schooling to go to work. Later, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, and a government clerk. Whitman's major poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money and became well known. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. During the American Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C. and worked in hospitals caring for the wounded. His poetry often focused on both loss and healing. On the death of Abraham Lincoln, whom Whitman greatly admired, he wrote his well known poems, "O Captain! My Captain!" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", and gave a series of lectures. After a stroke towards the end of his life, Whitman moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. When he died at the age of 72, his funeral was a public event.

Whitman's influence on poetry remains strong. Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe argued: "You cannot really understand America without Walt Whitman, without Leaves of Grass ... He has expressed that civilization, 'up to date,' as he would say, and no student of the philosophy of history can do without him." Modernist poet Ezra Pound called Whitman "America's poet ... He is America."
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Walt Whitman's book The Banned Books Compendium: 32 Classic Forbidden Books was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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