Title: Walt Whitman to Edwin Booth, 21 August 1884
Date: August 21, 1884
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:376. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Walter Hampden Memorial Library, The Players, New York
Whitman Archive ID: whm.00001
Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray
328 Mickle Street
Camden New Jersey
Aug: 21 '84
My dear Sir
First begging your pardon & hoping "I dont intrude" (yet knowing I do)—I am writing for the magazine market—or rather have written—a reminiscence of the actors & plays & "the old Bowery" of my youthful days—the chief figure in it being your father—by far the greatest histrion I have ever seen in my life (& I have always been a theatre goer)—
What I write to you now for, I want a good characteristic portrait of your father either in citizen's costume, or, (if very good) in one of his dramatic characters, to wood-engrave an illustration from—say to make a picture to fill ab't the size of one of the Harper's Magazine pages. Can you help me to it?1
I am disabled coop'd up here, & can't get about to get things for myself—or I wouldn't trouble you—
Won't you allow me to send you an autograph copy of my "Leaves of Grass" as a nibble at recompense?
Edwin Thomas Booth (1833–1893) was an American actor, famous for performing Shakespeare in the U.S. and Europe, the son of actor Junius Brutus Booth (1796–1852), and the brother of Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth (1838–1865), also an actor. He was the owner of Booth's Theatre in New York.
1. Booth wrote to Whitman on August 24 and August 28 and sent a copy of Asia Booth Clarke's The Elder and the Younger Booth (1882), "containing," in Booth's words, "poor copies of the good portraits that are in some secure, forgotten place among my 'traps.'" Whitman's article, entitled "Booth and 'The Bowery,'" appeared in the New York Tribune on August 16, 1885 (see the letter from Whitman to James Redpath of August 12, 1885). [back]