|Walt Whitman was born on Long Island, one of nine children born to a carpenter father and an illiterate Quaker mother. The family moved to Brooklyn when Walt was small, and he grew up there. Forced to quit school at eleven to help support the family, he learned the printing trade, which awakened a love of books and learning. As a young man, he taught school (and was considered an innovative, creative teacher who let the students call him by his first name), after which he worked as a printer and a journalist, writing about politics and the arts; for two years he was the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. All this time he was writing poetry; LEAVES OF GRASS was published in 1855, and represented many years of work. Whitman was a volunteer medical assistant in Washington during the Civil War, after which he worked in various government departments until, in 1873, he suffered a stroke which necessitated his retirement. He lived the rest of his life in Camden, New Jersey, writing poems and articles, known to a small group of admirers as "the Good Gray Poet." It wasn't until after his death, however, that Whitman was recognized as an important writer, one whose exuberant, democratic celebration of American life was a stirring reflection of the American spirit during his time.