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The correspondence of Hannah Whitman Heyde (1823-1908), younger sister of poet Walt Whitman, provides a rare glimpse into the life of a nineteenth-century woman. Married to well-known Vermont landscape artist Charles Louis Heyde (1820-1892), Hannah documented in letters to her mother, Louisa Van Velsor Whitman (1795-1873), and other family members, her lived experience of ongoing physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband. Hannah has long been characterized in biographical and scholarly studies of Whitman’s family as a neurotic and a hypochondriac—a narrative promulgated by Heyde himself—but Walt Whitman carefully preserved his sister’s letters, telling his literary biographer that his intention was to document her plight. Hannah’s complete letters, gathered here for the first time and painstakingly edited and annotated by Maire Mullins, provide an important counternarrative, allowing readers insight into the life of a real nineteenth-century woman, sister, and wife to famous men, who endured and eventually survived domestic violence.


women writers, domestic violence, correspondence, letters, Hannah Whitman Heyde, Walt Whitman's sister, Walt Whitman, biography, memoir, nineteenth-century women, Charles Louis Heyde, emotional abuse, physical abuse


This collection copyright © 2022 by Bucknell University Press Introduction and scholarly apparatus copyright © 2022 by Maire Mullins All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Please contact Bucknell University Press, Hildreth-Mirza Hall, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837-2005.


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Hannah Whitman Heyde: The Complete Correspondence