Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 24 September 1888

Date: September 24, 1888

Editorial note: The annotation, "See notes Sept 27, '88.," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

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.07247

Contributors to digital file: Jeannette Schollaert, Ian Faith, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock



page image
image 1
page image
image 2
page image
image 3
page image
image 4


Superintendent's Office.1
ASYLUM FOR THE INSANE
LONDON.
ONTARIO
London, Ont.,
24 Sept 1888

We are having a devil of a time so don't be uneasy if my letters shd seem a little "off the center." Our Western Fair has begun in London and the Asylum is full from morning to night of people to see friends and people to see through the institution—it is a perfect babel. Office half full all the time of men and women asking after friends (patients in asylum) whether they are better? Are they going to get better? What was the cause of their insanity? &c &c &c. Meanwhile I ought to be writing my annual report—the meter2 too is likely to call on me for some attention before the week is out, besides other matters, so you see I am not likely to get dull for want of some occupation. The weather keeps lovely and all is well with us. I still hope to see you between the middle and end of Oct.

I hope you are having pleasant weather and that all is going well with the books—I hope to see a copy of "November Boughs"3 this week and one of the "Complete Works"4 in the course of next week.

Love to you always
Your friend
RM Bucke


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle Street | Camden | New Jersey | U.S.A. It is postmarked: LONDON | PM | SP 24 | 88 | CANADA; CAMDEN, N.J. | SEP | 2 [illegible] | 1PM | [illegible] | [illegible]. [back]

2. Bucke and his brother-in-law William John Gurd were designing a gas and fluid meter to be patented in Canada and sold in England. [back]

3. Whitman's November Boughs was published in October 1888 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. For more information on the book, see James E. Barcus Jr., "November Boughs [1888]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Whitman wanted to publish a "big book" that included all of his writings, and, with the help of Horace Traubel, he made the presswork and binding decisions for the volume. Frederick Oldach bound Whitman's Complete Poems & Prose (1888), which included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. The book was published in December 1888. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom's Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary. [back]


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.