Walt Whitman

1819-1892

Biography

Walt Whitman was born on may 31, 1819 to a family of 7. at age 12, he started learning the printers trade and fell in love with the written word. he worked at a print shop until when he was 17 a fire burned it down. then he became a teacher 5 years. upon the end of his teaching career, he decided to be a full time journalist. he founded his own newspaper called the long-islander. in 1848 after seeing how vicious slavery can be, he founded another newspaper called the Brooklyn freeman. during this time, he developed his very unique style of poetry. Whitman's idol was Ralph waldo Emerson to whom he sent the first his first edition of leaves of grass. Emerson wrote Whitman a letter praising it which inspired him to produce more. in total, he published 8 editions of leaves of grass from 1855 til 1891. throughout his life, he was barely able to support himself and lived in poverty since he spent all excess money that wasn't absolutely necessary on his patients and sent it to his mother who was widowed and to his invalid brother. in his final years, he lived in Camden, new jersey

in a shabby clapboard house. he died on march 26, 1892.

Mini BIO - Walt Whitman

major works

Poetry:

Leaves of Grass (1855)

Leaves of Grass (1856)

Leaves of Grass (1860)

Drum Taps (1865)

Sequel to Drum Taps (1865)

Leaves of Grass (1867)

Leaves of Grass (1870)

Passage to India (1870)

Leaves of Grass (1876)

Leaves of Grass (1881)

Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891)

Leaves of Grass (1891)


Prose:

Franklin Evans; or, The Inebriate (1842)

Democratic Vistas (1871)

Memoranda During the War (1875)

Specimen Days and Collect (1881)

November Boughs (1888)

Complete Prose Works (1892)


common themes

  • he viewed democracy as not just a political party but a way of life
  • he had a lot of vivid, sexual references
  • he showed a lot of growth especially through plant references
  • he had a lot of long lists
  • he liked to express individual beauty