Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Edward Carpenter to Walt Whitman, 13 January [1889]

Date: January 13, [1889]

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01242

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "(1889?)," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Kirby Little, Caterina Bernardini, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock



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(address Millthorpe nr Chesterfield) London
13 Jan

Dear Walt—

Just a line as you have been much in my thoughts lately. The Scottish Art Review is publishing a review of November Boughs1 next month—by me—and I send you a slip.2 The winter keeps very mild here, but gloomy, and we don't see much of the sun. I suppose you find your strength waning very much, and don't reckon to be long with us now. Mr. Sharpe,3 my old harper friend that I told you of, died a few days ago—"very quiet & gentle" says his son writing to me. I hope you have not much pain dear Walt; we shall miss you so much—but you will perhaps understand more about us than we about you.

I am in London for a week or two. A friend of yours, from Belfast, who does not give his name, wants to send the enclosed 22/6 to buy you some little thing, now you are ill. So you will accept it, won't you? Affectionate remembrances to Herbert Gilchrist4 if you see him.

—and love to yourself as always
Edward Carpenter

I saw Ernest Rhys5 a day or two ago

P.S. The Money Order is sent in my name.


Correspondent:
Edward Carpenter (1844–1929) was an English writer and Whitman disciple. Like many other young disillusioned Englishmen, he deemed Whitman a prophetic spokesman of an ideal state cemented in the bonds of brotherhood. Carpenter—a socialist philosopher who in his book Civilisation, Its Cause and Cure posited civilization as a "disease" with a lifespan of approximately one thousand years before human society cured itself—became an advocate for same-sex love and a contributing early founder of Britain's Labour Party. On July 12, 1874, he wrote for the first time to Whitman: "Because you have, as it were, given me a ground for the love of men I thank you continually in my heart. . . . For you have made men to be not ashamed of the noblest instinct of their nature" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [1906–1996], 1:160). For further discussion of Carpenter, see Arnie Kantrowitz, "Carpenter, Edward [1844–1929]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. Whitman's November Boughs was published in October 1888 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. For more information on the book, see James E. Barcus Jr., "November Boughs [1888]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Carpenter's review of November Boughs was published in the April 1889 issue of The Scottish Art Review[back]

3. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]

4. Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

5. Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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