Some of the dimmest years in Walt Whitman's life precede the advent of Leaves of Grass in 1855, when he was working as a jour-nalist and fiction writer. Starting around 1850, what he'd begun writing in his personal notebooks was far more enigmatic than anything he'd done before.
One of Whitman's most secretive projects during this timeframe was a novel, Life and Adventures of Jack Engle; serialized anonymously in the spring of 1852, and rediscovered and properly published in 2017. The key to the novel's later discovery were plot notes Whit-man had made in one of his private notebooks.
Whitman's invaluable notebooks have been virtually inacces-sible to the public, until now. Maintaining the early notebooks' wild, syncretic feel and sample illustrations of Whitman's beauti-ful and unkempt pages, scholars Zachary Turpin and Matt Miller's thorough transcriptions have made these notebooks available to all; sharing Whitman's secret space for developing his poetry, his writing, his philosophy, and himself.