This dictionary was designed, not simply for the scholar, but for the general reader who needs more enlightenment about a specific American author or movement than a mere catalogue of facts can give him. The scholar has read whole books about Walt Whitman, and uses the dictionary merely to refresh his memory concerning a title or a date. The general reader wants a concise account of how Whitman lived, what he was like as a person, what prompted him to write poetry, why this poetry is now considered to be important, and a history of Whitman appraisals. On the other hand, the average reader would prefer not be confused by meaningless facts, obscure data, or scholastic debate. The scholar or the student, the editor or the teacher, will find in this dictionary almost any fact concerning American literature that he will ever need. The general reader will find, in addition to facts, valuable apprehensions concerning our American literary heritage.