About the Author
Walter Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 in Long Island, New York, the second of nine children in a poor family. Walt quit school at age eleven, working as an office boy for two lawyers, then as an apprentice at a newspaper, where he learned about typesetting and the printing press. In 1836, Whitman became a teacher, but wasn’t happy and left the job in 1838, founding his own paper, selling it after ten months, and trying his hand at teaching again. Walt began writing “Leaves of Grass” in 1850, publishing it five years later. Ralph Waldo Emerson praised the book and it gained in popularity. The book was rereleased multiple times. Henry David Thoreau was also a fan and visited Whitman. Walt’s brother George was a Union Soldier during the Civil War and when Walt thought he had died, went to the battle front to find him still living. Witnessing the carnage affected him and he headed for Washington, D. C. to volunteer as a nurse in the army hospitals. In 1864, George was captured by Confederates in Virginia, another brother died from tuberculosis and another brother was committed to a lunatic asylum. George was released in 1865 and Walt began working for the Attorney General’s office, interviewing Confederate soldiers for Presidential pardons. In 1873, Walt suffered a stroke went to live with his brother George and their mother, who died later that year. In 1884, he moved out and purchased his own home. By now, he was almost completely bedridden and Mary Oakes Davis, a widow moved in to take care of the house. In 1891, he prepared the final edition of “Leaves of Grass,” having fine-tuned it for 33 years. He died on March 26, 1892, in Camden, new Jersey, at the age of 72, from pleurisy, pneumonia, tuberculosis and kidney disease. More than 1,000 visitors attended his public viewing and he was buried in a tomb, that he, himself designed and had built in Harleigh Cemetery.
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