Title: Charles de Kay to Walt Whitman, 16 December 1882
Date: December 16, 1882
Editorial note: The annotation, "from Chas De Kay Dec: '82," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.01425
Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Eder Jaramillo, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Nicole Gray
Dear Walt Whitman
We have been forming here a little club, or series of meetings, for authors and writers, and it has seemed to several who have a good deal to do with the management of the club that you, although only now & then in New York, ought to belong to it. I have no sort of doubt that at the next meeting (the 20th) you will be elected a member if you wish to belong. The initiation fee is fifteen dollars, the annual dues ten. Is there any chance of you being in town next Wednesday? If so, I could guarantee that at the business meeting at 8 o'clock you would be elected & at nine you could come in, as my guest for the Evening. For our system includes one guest asked by each member. Please let me hear from you at once—whether you would like to have your name put up and also whether you will come, as guest, to the next meeting. The club is just organised. Thirty-eight well known & less well known writers have been approached. 36 have accepted. Our present limit is 50, and probably five or ten will be elected next Wednesday. I want your name to head the list, not merely because of my esteem for you personally, but because of your importance in American letters. The club contains all the representative men who can be called littérateurs, the managers of the four leading reviews & magazines, &c, &c, & will doubtless embrace a number of the working men of letters in other cities. So you see the need of decision before the limit of membership is reached. I enclose you an odd copy of our circular call to the 38 & of the summons to our first regular meeting, at which I sincerely hope that the "good gray" will be a prominent figure. Let me know soon.
Charles de Kay
Come as guest, whether you join or not!
I think your last book throws more light on you & your work than anything yet published. No novel is so absorbing.1
1. This postscript, written vertically on the first page of the letter, is circled in red by Whitman and indicated by a pointing hand (☜). [back]