Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 19 September 1888

Date: September 19, 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), 4:213–214. 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.00611

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Alex Ashland, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden1
Wednesday P M
Sept: 19 '88

"The same subject continued" was the heading of the old chapters' novelists, this is ab't my note—Am I right in predicating that all goes with you better than for some time? Somehow I hope so—I hear from Dr B[ucke]2—& friends here come in a good deal—meantime I am anchor'd here in my big chair, quite immobile—The printing goes on fairly3


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
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)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. This letter is endorsed: "Answ'd Oct. 5, 1888." It is addressed: Wm Douglas O'Connor | 1015 O Street | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J.| Sep 19 | 8 PM | 88; Washington, Rec'd. | Sep 20 | 7 AM | 88 | 1. [back]

2. 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). [back]

3. Whitman is probably referring to his November Boughs, which would be published in October 1888, and Complete Poems & Prose, which would be published in December 1888. [back]


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