Walt Whitman’s lost ‘Manly Health and Training’ essays discovered

The famous author and poet Walt Whitman always had a way of making his words seem like the most sensible things that were ever
stated. A man that professed the importance of one’s connection with our natural world, he was not only a revolutionary writer but philosopher as well. It seems we can now call him a men’s health columnist, too.

Scholars had long wondered about journal notes where Whitman had a handwritten draft of an advertisement for a series on manly health. Last summer the series was uncovered by Zachary Turpin, a graduate student in English at the University of Houston. And this spring the nearly 47,000-word journalistic series, “Manly Health and Training”, is being published by the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.

Page one of part one. Photo: Courtesy of The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review

Page one of part one. Photo: Courtesy of The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review

"Manly Health and Training" was published in The New York Atlas in weekly installments starting in September 1858. Whitman was 39 at this time and trying to gather himself after his first two editions of “Leaves Of Grass” and preparing the iconic third edition. Published under a favorite pen-name of Whitman’s, "Mose Velsor”, that’s exactly how Turpin discovered the series that had been lost for nearly 150 years, Turpin told The New York Times.

The biggest Whitman discovery in decades, it’s a 13-part series that features “some plain and we hope sensible hints toward the furtherance of — a sound and steady condition of manly health,” as Whitman himself professes in the introduction to part one. Advocating a lifestyle of moderation that holistically blends the mental and physical being of man, Whitman’s series delves into a range of topics from war to sex to diet to bathing to exercise and so much more. It’s certainly a great addition to the timeless words of a true naturalist, and some advice we should probably all heed, as Whitman himself lived till the age of 72.

You can read all of Whitman’s “Manly and Healthy Training” over at The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.

Walt Whitman. Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Brady/National Archives

Walt Whitman. Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Brady/National Archives

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