Whitman was born on 1819, in on Long Island, New York, the second of nine children of Walter Whitman, a farmer and carpenter, and Louisa (née Van Velsor) Whitman, of Dutch descent. He made a living from teaching, journalism and printing, moving between Long Island and Manhattan and a brief but influential sojourn in New Orleans. His writing commanded interest in advanced circles, but was generally judged as scandalous. This notoriety made finding work impossible. Impoverished, he died of pneumonia in 1892.
The text known as Song of Myself was published as an untitled poem in the first edition of Leaves Of Grass (1855). In the second edition (1856) it was called Poem Of Walt Whitman, An American and finally Song of Myself (1882). Other poetry includes Drum Taps, about the American Civil War.
A Whitman website - life, times, works, photographs.