Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 31 December 1881
Date: December 31, 1881
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.
Notes for this letter were derived from The Letters of Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, ed. Artem Lozynsky (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1977).
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.05099
Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kirsten Clawson, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Nicole Gray, and Elizabeth Lorang
Asylum for the Insane,1
31st Dec. 1881
My dear Walt
Just a line to tell you that we have another fine boy born about an hour ago2—both mother and child are well
R M Bucke
Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).
1. There is a vertical line drawn across Bucke's letter, and on the back Whitman drafted part of a piece titled "An Hour at Kenosha Summit," which first appeared in Specimen Days and Collect as "An Hour on Kenosha Summit" (1882–83). [back]
2. Robert Walpole was the last of Bucke's eight children. [back]