Title: Walt Whitman to Ellen M. O'Connor, 8 August 1887
Date: August 8, 1887
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:115. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library
Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00567
Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock
Aug 8 '87
Matters ab't as usual with me—I took a long drive yesterday— Weather pleasant here—
Ellen M. "Nelly" O'Connor was the wife of William D. O'Connor (1832–1889), one of Whitman's staunchest defenders. Whitman dined with the O'Connors frequently during his Washington years, and he speaks often in his letters of their daughter Jean, by nickname "Jenny" or "Jeannie." Though Whitman and William O'Connor would break in late 1872 over Reconstruction policies with regard to emancipated black citizens, Ellen would remain friendly with Whitman. The correspondence between Whitman and Ellen is almost as voluminous as the poet's correspondence with William. For more on Whitman's relationship with the O'Connors, see also Dashae E. Lott, "William Douglas O'Connor," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, ed., (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).
1. This letter is addressed: Mrs E M O'Connor | 1015 O Street | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Aug 8 | 3 PM | 87; Washington, Rec'd | Aug | 9 | 10 PM | 1887. [back]
2. William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet "The Good Gray Poet," published in 1866 (a digital version of the pamphlet is available at "The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication"). For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, O'Connor, William Douglas [1832–1889]. [back]
3. In a lengthy letter on August 2, 1887, Ellen M. O'Connor had informed Whitman that her husband had secretly gone to Maine in order to try the method of Dr. Kinnear for his illness. She sent "a package of letters belonging to you . . . the Rossetti correspondence, & as a part of history valuable." [back]