Walt Whitman

Whitman, Walt (1819-1892), American poet, whose work boldly asserts the worth of
the individual and the oneness of all humanity. Whitman's defiant break with
traditional poetic concerns and style exerted a major influence on American
thought and literature. Born near Huntington, New York, Whitman was the second
of a family of nine children. His father was a carpenter. The poet had a
particularly close relationship with his mother. When Whitman was four years
old, his family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he attended public school for
six years before being apprenticed to a printer. Two years later he went to New

York City to work in printing shops. He returned to Long Island in 1835 and
taught in country schools. In 1838 and 1839 Whitman edited a newspaper, the

Long-Islander, in Huntington. When he became bored with the job, he went back to

New York City to work as a printer and journalist. There he enjoyed the theater,
the opera, and-always an omnivorous reader- the libraries. Whitman wrote poems
and stories for popular magazines and made political speeches, for which Tammany

Hall Democrats rewarded him with the editorship of various short-lived
newspapers (see Tammany Society). For two years Whitman edited the influential

Brooklyn Eagle, but he lost his position for supporting the Free-Soil party.

After a brief sojourn in New Orleans, Louisiana, he returned to Brooklyn, where
he tried to start a Free-Soil newspaper. After several years spent at various
jobs, including building houses, Whitman began writing a new kind of poetry and
thereafter neglected business.


Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for writers of Research papers. 4th ed. New

York: MLA, 1995