Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Reginald A. and Katie E. Beckett to Walt Whitman, 2 July 1888

Date: July 2, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01091

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: Jeannette Schollaert, Ian Faith, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

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Silverhill, Shenley, Hertfordshire,
2nd July 1888.

Dear Walt Whitman,

This letter is to give you love and greeting from an English Socialist and his wife. We heard a little while ago that you were seriously ill, but hope you are now much better.

Forgive all that is amiss in the enclosed papers, and look on them as the first efforts of a child to speak words he can already understand. What we want to tell you is, that here in old England, in the midst of infidelity and sentimental pessimism, your strong and beautiful thought has found its way into the hearts and lives of two lovers, making them wiser and happier in every way. We are no longer ashamed of ourselves, but accept life as we find it. Acknowledging ourselves your disciples, we take you at your word as you have given it to us in your books, and believe that you will welcome us into your personal confidence and love. We should like to know that you feel this and accept it, and should infinitely treasure even a single line from your hand in return; but if you are ill, or feel it anyhow a burden, do not trouble about it, for we shall not fear you have forgotten us.

It would be futile to try and thank you for what you have taught us; we know that our thanks would best please you if shown in trying to help others in the same way. This we do, and promise still to do; so wherever you are you will know that here your spirit is at work. We have a brother in the States, and long to visit them ourselves: can it be that we shall ever have the joy of meeting you face to face?

With our truest love and thanks, and prayers for your joy and health

We are, dear Walt Whitman,

Your devoted pupils and friends
Reginald A. Beckett
Katie E. Beckett

Reginald A Beckett and his wife Katie E. Beckett were British socialists and admirers of Whitman. Reginald Beckett, also a poet and journalist, authored "Whitman as a Socialist Poet," which was published in the July 1888 issue of To-Day magazine. He also published in serials such as the Christian Socialist and the Labor Prophet, a periodical that he began editing in 1896 (Kirsten Harris, Walt Whitman and British Socialism: 'The Love of Comrades' [New York: Routledge, 2016], 20, 109). Little additional information is known about Katie E. Beckett.


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