Walt Whitman burst onto the literary stage raring for a fight with his transatlantic forebears. With the unmetered and unrhymed long lines of Leaves of Grass, he blithely forsook "the old models" declaring that "poems distilled from other poems will probably pass away." In a self-authored butunsigned review of the inaugural 1855 edition, Whitman boasted that its influence-free author "makes no allusions to books or writers; their spirits do not seem to have touched him." There was more than a hint here of a party-crasher's bravado or a new-comer's anxiety about being perceived asderivative. But the giants of British literature were too well established in America to be toppled by Whitman's patronizing "that wonderful little island," he called England - or his frequent assertions that Old World literature was non grata on American soil. As Gary Schmidgall demonstrates, the Americanbard's manuscripts, letters, prose criticism, and private conversations all reveal that Whitman's negotiation with the literary "big fellows" across the Atlantic was much more nuanced and contradictory than might be supposed. His hostile posture also changed over the decades as the gymnastic rebeltransformed into Good Gray Poet, though even late in life he could still crow that his masterwork Leaves of Grass "is an iconoclasm, it starts out to shatter the idols of porcelain." Containing Multitudes explores Whitman's often uneasy embrace of five members of the British literary pantheon: Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Blake, and Wordsworth (five others are treated more briefly: Scott, Carlyle, Tennyson, Wilde, and Swinburne). It also considers how the arcs of their creativecareers are often similar to the arc of Whitman's own fifty years of poem-making. Finally, it seeks to illuminate the sometimes striking affinities between the views of these authors and Whitman on human nature and society. Though he was loath to admit it, these authors anticipated much that we nowsee as quintessentially Whitmanic.