In what might be one of the literary discoveries of the 21st century, a graduate student by the name of Zachary Turpin has unearthed a literary treasure of the legendary wordsmith Walt Whitman that was lost for 165 years.
The Life and Adventures of Jack Engle was originally serialised in six parts, in a New York newspaper in 1852, and was published by Whitman under a pseudonym.
The story was published on Monday in its entirety for the first time, in the literary journal Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, and the University of Iowa Press will soon be releasing it as a physical book.
The discovery has caused understandable excitement in the literary community because just three years after this work was written its author would go on to write the masterpiece Leaves of Grass, cementing Whitman firmly as one of the Americas greatest writers.
Grad student Zachary Turpin found the story in the Library of Congress last year having unearthed clues from a 1852 newspaper advert in The New York Times. The plot of the story and character names were similar to those in some of Whitman’s notes from around the same time.
Unbelievably Turpin had previously discovered a long-lost book of Whitman’s journalism called Manly Health and Training, back in 2015. This time “Turpin has outdone himself,” said Ed Folsom, the editor of Walt Whitman Quarterly Review “discovering an even more important lost Whitman work.”