Walt Whitman was born in Long Island, New York, and grew up in Brooklyn. After training as a printer, he returned to Long Island as a teacher and started a local newspaper.
He moved back to Brooklyn in 1842 to continue his journalistic career, simultaneously writing poetry and short stories, working as editor of the Brooklyn Times, and as a correspondent for the New York Times. Whitman also served as a volunteer nurse in army hospitals during the American Civil War, which had a profound effect on him. He was a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln and his best known poem O Captain! My Captain! is one of his tributes to him.
Whitman was one of the first poets to develop a distinctively American style of writing which captures the democratic principle, earthiness, brotherhood, and freedom-seeking spirit of an emerging American culture. In 1873 he suffered a stroke, which left him paralysed for the remainder of his life, during which he continued to write prose and political works.
The Complete Poems of Walt Whitman (Wordsworth Poetry Library)
Walt Whitman, David Rogers (Introduction)