Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 10 November 1888
Date: November 10, 1888
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:233. 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.07465
Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Alex Ashland, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock
Nov: 10 '88
A little under to day, but feel clearer this evn'g. As I write the wind is blowing up quite a gale. Have finished the little beginning & end Notes I spoke of for the big book2 & sent to the printer—(I am a bit squeamish yet ab't them)—
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. This letter is addressed: Dr R M Bucke | Asylum | London | Ontario Canada. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Nov 10 | 8 PM | 88; Philadelphia, Pa. | Nov | 10 | 9 30 PM | 1888 | Transit. [back]
2. Whitman's "big book" is a reference to his Complete Prose and Poetry that was published by David McKay of Philadelphia in 1888. [back]