Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 20 February 1881

Date: February 20, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: har.00041

Source: Manuscripts Department, Houghton Library, Harvard University. 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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Kirsten Clawson, and Nicole Gray

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

431 Stevens Street
Camden New Jersey
Feb: 20 '81

My dear Mr Longfellow

A friend in Canada—to whom I am indebted for great personal kindnesses & affections—particularly desires your autograph1—Could you furnish it to me, to send? & much oblige

Walt Whitman


1. On February 13, Whitman sent a "postal to Dr Bucke ab't Longfellow's autograph," which Bucke had apparently requested (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). On February 22, Longfellow wrote to Whitman: "It gives me great pleasure to comply with your request"; and on February 24, Whitman sent the autograph to Bucke (Whitman's Commonplace Book). In 1891, Whitman recollected the incident in a conversation with Horace Traubel: "Bucke once got me in a hell of a hole. Wrote asking me to interpose for an autograph of Longfellow—wished it for some great lord somebody up there—a man he was under—a man whose favor he particularly wanted—indeed, he owned as much to me—and would have me write, which I did. And the gentle amiable sweet Longfellow acquiesced. But I was ashamed of myself—thousands of dollars would not have bought it. This thing with Forman [another request for an autograph] amounts to about the same. I do it but hate myself for surrendering" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [1906–1996], 9 vols., 8:223–224). [back]


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

Support the Archive | About the Archive

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