A Walt Whitman biography is an interesting read about the man and his work as writer, poet and journalist. Whitman, considered controversial for his explicit Leaves of Grass collection, remains among an elite group of poets who continue to influence today's writers.
Walt Whitman Biography
Walter Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 in West Hills, Long Island, New York. The second of nine children, the Whitman family lived in Long Island but later moved to Brooklyn as the family expanded.
Walt received limited formal schooling, but began his working career at the tender age of 12. He began working as a printer's helper, which ignited his life-long interest in the written word.
During the 1830s through the 1840s, Whitman tried his hand at different jobs, including that of a schoolteacher and newspaper editor. He took various positions at New York magazines and newspapers before he became editor of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1846.
Whitman self-published his first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855 with an additional eight revisions to the work submitted in the ensuing years.
In 1862, Whitman's brother was wounded at the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Whitman joined his brother at the camp and found work in nearby Washington, D.C. He stayed for several years, serving as an unofficial nurse helping injured soldiers. In 1865, he worked as a clerk for the Department of the Interior until terminated by Secretary James Harlan, due to his feelings that the writing of Whitman was offensive.
His fourth edition of Leaves of Grass, containing new poems, omissions and revisions, was published in 1867 and again in 1870, 1876 and 1881.
By 1872, Whitman was not in good health. He suffered a stroke the following year and was left partially paralyzed. In that same year, he traveled to his brother's home in Camden, New Jersey to be with his mother in her final days.
After his mother's death, Whitman continued to live with his brother until 1882 with the publishing of the final revision of Leaves of Grass. The earnings from the book allowed him to purchase his own modest home in Camden, where he lived out his remaining years.
Walt Whitman died at the age on March 26, 1892 at age 73 and buried in Harleigh Cemetery.
He is considered an influential icon with his innovative style of writing that incorporated a free verse form versus rhyming text, earning him credit as founder of this creative writing style.