17 Things You Didn’t Know About Walt Whitman

Published May 31, 2015
Updated January 9, 2018

Walt Whitman Facts

Today marks 196 years since Walt Whitman was born in West Hills, New York. While the American poet, essayist and journalist was considered radical for his opinions on many topics—labor issues, immigration, sexuality and capital punishment, among others—during his life, he’s now revered as one of the country’s most influential poets. Whitman’s life’s work, Leaves of Grass, broke away from the poetic conventions of his day, moving poetry forward in a surprising number of ways.

As an ode to the “father of free verse,” here are 17 facts about Walt Whitman that might surprise you:

Whitman Volunteer During Civil War

Surprising Facts About Walt Whitman

Self-Taught Walt Whitman

Great Poet Whitman

Free Soil Supporters

Leaves of Grass Obscene

Leaves of Grass First Edition

Whitman Anti-Slavery Supporter

Whitman as Teacher

Whitman's Sexuality Debate

Whitman Self-Publishes Leaves of Grass

Portrait of Whitman

Walt Whitman Publishing Career

Walt Whitman Photograph

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Walt Whitman Tar and Feather

Whitman Grave

Can’t get enough of these Walt Whitman facts? Check out this short video biography, or check out more surprising facts about Nikola Tesla, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein.

Kiri Picone
Bay Area transplant Kiri Picone is a writer and marketer who loves bizarre news and the color purple.