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Maire Mullins Publishes Book, Hannah Whitman Heyde: The Complete Correspondence

December 10, 2021  | 2 min read

Maire Mullins with her bookOn December 10, 2021, Bucknell University Press published Hannah Whitman Heyde: The Complete Correspondence, a collection of poet Walt Whitman’s younger sister Hannah’s letters, edited by Maire Mullins, professor of English and Blanche E. Seaver Chair of English Literature.

Mullins’ book is the first complete collection of Hannah’s letters, carefully preserved by her brother Walt. The collection provides insight into the life of a nineteenth-century woman, more specifically, one who endured and survived physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, Charles Louis Heyde, a well-known Vermont landscape painter. Hannah has been traditionally characterized as a neurotic and hypochondriac by Whitman biographers. Through her careful edits and annotations, Mullins provides an important counter narrative.

“Hannah’s lifelong struggle, with minimal family support, was against intimate partner psychological abuse and physical violence, and against the weight of public opinion that made the truth about her marriage unspeakable in her era,” reviewer Wesley Raabe writes. 

“Maire Mullins’ inspired collection of Whitman’s younger sister Hannah’s letters—along with Mullins’ chilling introductory essay about how Hannah’s life illuminates nineteenth-century intimate partner violence—bring Hannah fully and achingly to life,” reviewer Ed Folsom notes. “The Hannah that emerges in Mullins’ eye-opening book undoes the whining one-dimensional figure that has inhabited Whitman biographies for the past century.”

Maire Mullins, professor of English, is Blanche E. Seaver Chair of English Literature. She has served as chair of the Humanities and Teacher Education division at Pepperdine University and as chair of the English and foreign languages department at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. From 2005-2012 she served as editor of the journal Christianity and Literature. Dr. Mullins was named a Fulbright Scholar to Japan and taught at Tokyo Christian Women's University and Tokyo Gakugei University. Her areas of expertise include Walt Whitman, Hannah Whitman Heyde, digital humanities, religion and literature, and gender studies.

To learn more about Hannah Whitman Heyde: The Complete Correspondence, visit the Bucknell University Press website.