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Walt Whitman turns 200!

May 28th, 2019 · No Comments · Books, City Library, Main Branch, West Branch

Walt Whitman, 1863-64. Photograph by Alexander Gardner.
Photo credit: The Walt Whitman Archive

This year marks the 200th birthday of one of America’s most significant and influential poets, Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892). He is best remembered for his work Leaves of Grass, expanded and republished eight times during the poet’s life, growing from merely a dozen poems to over 383.

The first to experiment with unrhymed, unmetered verse, Whitman’s poetry—controversial for its sensuality and homoeroticism—was largely underappreciated during his lifetime. He served as a nurse during the Civil War, a journalist, and a clerk for both the U.S. Attorney General’s Office and Bureau of Indian Affairs. In fact, Whitman was fired from this latter job when his superior discovered that he was the very author of the already infamous Leaves of Grass! A stroke in 1873 left Whitman paralyzed on his left side, yet he continued writing up until his final days, including the “deathbed edition” of Leaves of Grass.

We have books of Whitman’s life and work on display in the library rotunda during the months of May and June, opposite our Read with Pride display. If you have a Manchester City Library card, or are in the library, you can read more about Walt Whitman in the Arts & Literature section of Explora. For even more information, visit University of Nebraska’s Walt Whitman Archive, or the Library of Congress’ Walt Whitman: A Resource Guide.

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