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Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography

Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995. 671 p.
history, biography

People Mentioned in this Work

Clapp, Henry [pages:376-378,453-454]

Nantucket-born, spent time in Paris and pronounced himself a bohemian upon his return in mid-1850s. Clapp is described as becoming "the archetypal bohemian, lashing out at everything but standing for little besides a love of fine coffee, strong liquor, and lively repartee."

Clapp worked as a Sunday-school teacher,temperance lecturer, and an abolitionist. At one point, he became involved in socialism and translated Fourier's works for Albert Brisbane. Clapp also joined Stephen Pearl Andrews' free-love league after returning from Paris. He wrote against conventional marriage in 1858 in the free-love book Husband vs. Wife. Briefly revived The Saturday Press in 1865. Around 1867, Clapp worked as a clerk in a New York public office.

In describing his career, Whitman told Traubel, "You will have to know something about Henry Clapp if you want to know all about me."

Clare, Ada [pages:377]
Eyre, Ellen [pages:490]

Reynolds interprets a letter sent to Whitman signed with this name to suggest that the sender and Whitman had been intimate the previous night (490).

Gardette, Charles [pages:377]
Grey, Ellen [pages:375]

Actress who may have had a love affair with Whitman; Whitman kept a picture of her until his death (375).

Ludlow, Fitz Hugh [pages:377]

Reynolds claims that "The Hashish Eater" (1857), written about his drug experiences "may be the most bizarre work by a nineteenth-century American" (377).

Menken, Adah [pages:377]
O'Brien, Fitz-James [pages:377]

Reynolds mentions that he wrote horror stories in the style of Poe (377).

Pfaff, Charles [pages:376,536]

Mentioned as the owner of Pfaff's restaurant. Pfaff was born in either Switzerland or southwest Germany. Reynolds mentions that Pfaff met with Whitman in 1881 during Whitman's summer tour of the east coast.

Poe, Edgar [pages:378,379]

Described as the "patron saint" of the Pfaff's bohemians (378-9).

The Saturday Press [pages:377,378,381,387,404,453,496]

Reynolds' discussion of the paper includes Clapp's description of the bohemian as an individualist and his position on slavery, etc. The Saturday Press was revived by Clapp in 1865, but failed quickly.

The first incarnation of The Saturday Press's ran 25 pieces by or about Whitman between Dec. 24, 1859 and Dec. 15, 1860. Reynolds specifically notes female reviews addressed to Whitman appearing in the paper (esp. by woman calling herself C.C.P.).

Shepherd, Nathaniel [pages:377]

Also known by his initials N.G.; was a picturesque poet (377).

Sweeney, Frank [pages:490]

Frank is also referred to here as "Sweezey" (490).

Swinton, John [pages:455]

John is mentioned as editor of The New York Times. Swinton helped Whitman get his brother George returned from the Civil War (455).

Ward, Artemus [pages:377]

Ward was a comedian known for vernacular humor (377).

Whitman, Walt [pages:375-382,387,407,453-454, 536]

Reynolds describes Whitman in 1859 as "disaffected and drifting, a perfect candidate for bohemia."

In Whitman's words,"My own greatest pleasure at Pfaff's was to look on - to see, talk little, absorb. I was never a great discusser, anyway." Whitman read a draft of "Beat! Beat! Drums" at Pfaff's on September 27,1861.