elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 - March 26, 1892)

Walter "Walt" Whitman 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.
Born: May 31, 1819, West Hills, New York, United States
Died: March 26, 1892, Camden, New Jersey, United States
Lived: 99 Ryerson St, Brooklyn, NY 11205
330 Mickle Boulevard, Camden, NJ 08103, USA (39.94246, -75.12353)
431 Stevens Street, Camden
246 Old Walt Whitman Rd, Huntington Station, NY 11746
Buried: Harleigh Cemetery, Camden, Camden County, New Jersey, USA
Find A Grave Memorial# 1098
Poems: Song of Myself, O Captain! My Captain!, more
Awards: Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration

Walt Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. 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 very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality. Peter Doyle may be the most likely candidate for the love of Whitman's life, according to biographer David S. Reynolds. Doyle was a 21 years old bus conductor whom Whitman met around 1866, when he was 45, and the two were inseparable for several years. Interviewed in 1895, Doyle said: "We were familiar at once—I put my hand on his knee—we understood. He did not get out at the end of the trip—in fact went all the way back with me.” Oscar Wilde met Whitman in America in 1882 and wrote to the homosexual rights activist George Cecil Ives that there was "no doubt" about the great American poet's sexual orientation—"I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips", he boasted. In 1924 Edward Carpenter, then an old man, described an erotic encounter he had had in his youth with Whitman to Gavin Arthur, who recorded it in detail in his journal.

Together from 1866 to 1892: 26 years.
Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 - March 26, 1892)
Peter Doyle (June 3, 1843 - April 19, 1907)

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
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House: Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was born in West Hills, Town of Huntington, Long Island (246 Old Walt Whitman Rd, Huntington Station, NY 11746), to parents with interests in Quaker thought, Walter and Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. The second of nine children, he was immediately nicknamed "Walt" to distinguish him from his father. Walter Whitman, Sr. named three of his seven sons after American leaders: Andrew Jackson, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. The oldest was named Jesse and another boy died unnamed at the age of six months. The couple's sixth son, the youngest, was named Edward. At age four, Whitman moved with his family from West Hills to Brooklyn, living in a series of homes, in part due to bad investments. Whitman looked back on his childhood as generally restless and unhappy, given his family's difficult economic status. One happy moment that he later recalled was when he was lifted in the air and kissed on the cheek by the Marquis de Lafayette during a celebration in Brooklyn on July 4, 1825.

Queer Places, Vol. 1.2: Retracing the Steps of LGBTQ people around the World Authored by Elisa Rolle
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House: Walt Whitman (1819-1892) lived at 99 Ryerson St (Brooklyn, NY 11205) in 1855, the year he published his poetry collection “Leaves of Grass.” When this collection was published, it is said many reviewers labeled it as “obscene” and one reviewer allegedly came close to calling him gay, saying “he is guilty of that horrible sin that is not to be named among Christians.”

Queer Places, Vol. 1.2: Retracing the Steps of LGBTQ people around the World Authored by Elisa Rolle
ISBN-13: 978-1544066585 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1544066589
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House: The Walt Whitman House is a historic building in Camden, Camden County, New Jersey, which was the last residence of poet Walt Whitman, in his declining years before his death. It is located at 330 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, known as Mickle St. during Whitman’s time there.

Address: 330 Mickle Boulevard, Camden, NJ 08103, USA (39.94246, -75.12353)
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday 10.00-12.00, 13.00-16.00, Sunday 13.00-16.00
Phone: +1 856-964-5383
Website: http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/historic/whitman/
National Register of Historic Places: 66000461, 1966. Also National Historic Landmarks.

Address: Harleigh Cemetery, 1640 Haddon Ave, Camden, NJ 08103, USA (39.92614, -75.09425)
Hours: Monday through Saturday 8.30-16.30
Phone: +1 856-963-3500
Website: http://www.harleighcemetery.org/

When Whitman was 65 he bought the Mickle Street House and it was the first home he owned. Whitman called it his "shanty" or "coop,” emphasizing its shabbiness. His brother George did not approve of the purchase and the decision strained their relationship. Others questioned Whitman’s judgment as well. A friend called it "the worst house and the worst situated.” Another friend noted it "was the last place one would expect a poet to select for a home."

Who: Walter "Walt" Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892)
In 1873, Walt Whitman suffered a paralytic stroke and in May the same year, his mother Louisa Whitman died; both events left him depressed. Louisa was in Camden, New Jersey at the time and Whitman arrived three days before her death. He returned to Washington, D. C., where he had been living, only briefly before returning to Camden to live with his brother George, paying room and board. The brothers lived on 431 Stevens St, Camden, NJ 08103 (burned in 1994) and Walt lived there for the next eleven years. Whitman spent the Christmas of 1883 with friends in Germantown, Pennsylvania while his brother was building a farmhouse in Burlington, New Jersey that included accommodations for the poet. Instead of moving with his brother, however, Whitman purchased the Mickle Street House in Camden in the spring of 1884. The lot on which the home was standing was purchased in 1847 by a clerk named Adam Hare for $350. It was likely Hare who built the house. By the time Whitman bought it, it was a two-story row house with six rooms and no furnace. Its recent occupant was Alfred Lay, the grandfather of a young friend of Whitman. When Lay couldn’t pay the rent for March, Whitman loaned him the $16 he needed. Whitman soon after purchased the home for $1,750, which he earned from sales of a recent edition of “Leaves of Grass” and through a loan from publisher George William Childs. Lay continued to live there with his wife, cooking to cover part of their rent and paying $2 a week; the Lays moved out on January 20, 1885. Whitman later invited Mary Davis, a sailor’s widow living a few blocks away, to serve as his housekeeper in exchange for free rent in the house. She moved in February 24, 1885, bringing with her a cat, a dog, two turtledoves, a canary, and other assorted animals. While living in the home, Whitman completed several poems, many focused on public events. One was a sonnet published in the February 22, 1885, issue of the Philadelphia Press called "Ah, Not This Granite Dead and Cold" which commemorated the completion of the Washington Monument. Some of Whitman’s writing was done in his bedroom, which visitors noted was similar to a newspaper office, piled with stacks of paper. During his years in the house, however, Whitman only earned an estimated $1,300, of which only $20 came from royalties from “Leaves of Grass” and about $350 came from new works. The majority of his earnings were donations from admirers and well-wishers. Whitman’s health had been failing since before he moved into the home and he began making preparations for his death. For $4,000, he commissioned a granite house-shaped mausoleum which he visited often during its construction. In the last week of his life, too weak to lift a knife or fork, he wrote: "I suffer all the time: I have no relief, no escape: it is monotony — monotony — monotony — in pain." He spent his last years preparing a final edition of “Leaves of Grass”. At the end of 1891, he wrote to a friend: "L. of G. at last complete—after 33 y’rs of hackling at it, all times & moods of my life, fair weather & foul, all parts of the land, and peace & war, young & old.” In January 1892, an announcement was published in the New York Herald in which Whitman asked that "this new 1892 edition... absolutely supersede all previous ones. Faulty as it is, he decides it as by far his special and entire self-chosen poetic utterance." The final edition of “Leaves of Grass” was published in 1892 and is referred to as the "deathbed edition.” Whitman died at 6:43 p.m. on March 26, 1892, a few days before his 73rd birthday. His autopsy was performed at the home and revealed that the left lung had collapsed and the right was at one-eighth its breathing capacity. A public viewing of Whitman’s body was also held at the Camden home; over one thousand people visited in three hours. In his final years, Whitman had noted his appreciation for the house and for Camden. He wrote, "Camden was originally an accident—but I shall never be sorry. I was left over in Camden. It has brought me blessed returns." Four days after his death, he was buried in his tomb at Harleigh Cemetery (1640 Haddon Ave, Camden, NJ 08103). After Whitman’s death, the majority of the home’s contents remained at the house. His heirs sold it to the city of Camden in 1921 and it was opened to the public five years later. In 1947, ownership was passed to the state of New Jersey. The Walt Whitman House is operated as a museum by the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry. The home is now open to the public. It is operated with help from the Walt Whitman Association. Included in the collection is the bed in which the poet died and the death notice that was taped to his front door.

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