Allen, Gay Wilson. The Solitary Singer: A Critical Biography of Walt Whitman. Rev. ed. New York: New York University Press, 1967. A careful, scholarly biography based on extensive archival sources, including manuscripts and letters, that attempts to treat Whitman’s life in terms of the poet’s work.
Aspiz, Harold. So Long! Walt Whitman’s Poetry of Death. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004. Examines the theme of death in Whitman’ poetry. Aspiz draws connections between the poet’s developing view of death and the views of certain influential acquaintances.
Asselineau, Roger. The Evolution of Walt Whitman. Expanded ed. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999. Asselineau writes with authority on a vast range of topics that define both Whitman the man and Whitman the mythical personage.
Brasher, Thomas L. Whitman as Editor of the Brooklyn “Daily Eagle.” Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1970. A thorough account of Whitman’s work as a journalist, connecting his newspaper work to the social and political conditions of New York City and the country at large.
Gold, Arthur, ed. Walt Whitman: A Collection of Criticism. New York: McGraw Hill, 1974. Concentrates on academic criticism, on the poet’s creative process, his literary reputation, his revisions of Leaves of Grass, and his vision of the United States in Democratic Vistas. A detailed chronology and a select, annotated bibliography make this collection a useful volume.
Kaplan, Justin. Walt Whitman: A Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980. An elegant, deeply imagined biography that focuses on both Whitman and his times. Kaplan provides the fullest, most sensitive account of the poet’s career, taking a chronological approach but managing to pinpoint and to highlight the most important phases of his subject’s life.
Miller, James E., Jr. Walt Whitman. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1990. Miller concentrates on the development and structure of Leaves of Grass, its democratic “poetics,” the major poems within it, “recurring images,” “language and wit,” and the “bardic voice.” The first chapter and chronology provide a factual and analytical discussion of Whitman’s biography, and Miller assesses the new criticism of the poet that has appeared since the original publication of his book in 1962. Includes bibliography.
Pearce, Roy Harvey, ed. Whitman: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962. A comprehensive collection of criticism, including commentary by Ezra Pound and D. H. Lawrence, three articles on the structure of Leaves of Grass, and additional discussion of the poet’s style and other works. Contains a chronology of important dates, an introductory overview of the critical literature on Whitman, and a bibliography.
Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995. For a review of this work examining the life and work of Whitman and the turbulent culture from which he sprang, see Magill’s Literary Annual review.
Reynolds, David S., ed. A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Combines contemporary cultural studies and historical scholarship to illuminate Whitman’s diverse contexts. The essays explore dimensions of Whitman’s dynamic relationship to working-class politics, race and slavery, sexual mores, the visual arts, and the idea of democracy.
Woodress, James, ed. Critical Essays on Walt Whitman. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1983. Divided into reviews and early reactions, essays and other forms of criticism, with an introduction surveying the history of Whitman criticism. This collection provides a good history of Whitman’s place in American culture and an informative, if highly selective, view of scholarly treatments of his work. Contains an index.
Zweig, Paul. Walt Whitman: The Making of a Poet. New York: Basic Books, 1984. This volume is not a chronological biography but rather a biographical and critical meditation on Whitman’s development as a poet. Zweig explores how the “drab” journalist of the 1840’s transformed himself into a major poet.