How did a carpenter’s son, grammar school dropout and sometime hack writer become America’s greatest poet?
To commemorate Whitman’s 200th birthday on May 31, 2019, this landmark exhibition showcases New York's role in the extraordinary transformation of Walter Whitman Jr. to “Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son.”
Whitman is now universally acclaimed as the "Good Gray Poet" and for his Civil War writings, though less is known of his early years as a Long Islander, Brooklynite and self-described "Manhattanese." The exhibition presents the story of his coming of age as a poet through a unique assemblage of rare books, manuscripts, and artifacts, many never before seen, from the Whitman Collection of Susan Jaffe Tane, archives such as the Feinberg Collection at the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library's Berg Collection, private family collections, and forgotten treasures from Bryn Mawr College's Special Collections and the Brooklyn College Library. Highlights include every American edition of Leaves of Grass published during Whitman's life, manuscripts and one-of-a-kind books that have remained in private hands from his time to our own, his pen, his cane, and even locks of his hair encased in exquisite Victorian rings.
A celebration of Whitman's enduring relationship with the metropolis that sired and inspired him, the exhibition is curated by collector Ms. Tane and Dr. Karen Karbiener, NYU Clinical Professor and Whitman scholar.