Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Edward W. Bok to Walt Whitman, March 16, 1887

Date: March 16, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01087

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Proposed Memorial
to the late
Rev. Henry Ward Beecher.1

The memorial is restricted to the letters and literary contributions of only a limited number of the most distinguished men and women of America and Europe, and will be published in noteworthy form for presentation to Mr. Beecher's family, and as a lasting record for his friends and the public.

320 State Street, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.A.2
March 16th '87

Walt Whitman Esq.
Dear Sir,

It is the earnest desire of Mr. Beecher's friends that this memorial shall be in every respect of the most representative character, and that this may be the more certain of accomplishment, I beg to solicit your valuable cöoperation.

The memorial will take the form of estimates of Mr. Beecher's character and the great public services rendered by him, and it is hoped to make it of such a character that it may ever remain a notable record of his life to be referred to in future years by his family and his friends.

From promises and contributions received, the high character of the Memorial is already assured, but we fully recognize the positive advantage it would receive by some tribute from your pen. We are therefore particularly hopeful of a favorable response at your hands, and this we most earnestly solicit.

As it is desired that the memorial be issued at as early a date as possible, may I beg the further favor of as speedy a reply as may be practicable?3

Repeating our sincere hopes for your kind cooperation in this matter.

I am, Sir,
Very Respectfully
Edward W. Bok.

Eduard Willem Gerard Cesar Hidde Bok (1863–1930), commonly known as Edward Bok, was a Dutch-American author and newspaperman, and he served as editor of the Ladies' Home Journal for thirty years. Like Whitman, Bok had also worked for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.


1. Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887), Congregational clergyman and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, accepted the pastorate of the Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, in 1847. Whitman described him briefly in the Brooklyn Daily Advertiser of May 25, 1850, reprinted in The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman, 2 vols., ed. Emory Holloway (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page, 1921), 1:234–235. See also Walt Whitman, Emory Holloway, and Vernolian Schwarz, I Sit and Look Out: Editorials from the Brooklyn Daily Times (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955), 84–85, and Horace Traubel, ed., With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, May 11, 1888. Henry Beecher's father, Lyman Beecher (1775–1863), was also a clergyman, who upon his retirement lived with his son in Brooklyn. [back]

2. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman, Esq., | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Brooklyn, N.Y. | Mar 17 | 1030am | 87; Camden [illegible] | Mar | 17 | 8pm | 1887 | Rec'd. Bok has written "Personal" at the top of the front of the envelope. [back]

3. Beecher Memorial: Contemporaneous Tributes to the Memory of Henry Ward Beecher, edited by Bok, was published in 1887; Whitman did not contribute to the volume, and, if he ever replied to Bok, his letter is not extant. [back]


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