Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe, 28 May [1884]

Date: May 28, 1884

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01344

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.

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.

Editorial notes: The annotations, "To Mary Whitall Smith | May 28. 1885 | Thanks for sheets— | pillowcases presented | to him—," and "(1885)," are in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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328 Mickle St: Camden
noon May 281

Dear friend

Thank you & dear Alys for the nice sheets & cases, which arrived yesterday, were immediately assigned to use, & will be of more direct & continued comfort to me than you think.

I am well as usual, & in good heart. Got through those three hot days quite well—Remembrances to all, especially dear boy Logan2

Walt Whitman

Dark & raining heavily here as I write, but opportune & welcome—

Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe (1864–1945) was a political activist, art historian, and critic, whom Whitman once called his "staunchest living woman friend." A scholar of Italian Renaissance art and a daughter of Robert Pearsall Smith, she would in 1885 marry B. F. C. "Frank" Costelloe. She had been in contact with many of Whitman's English friends and would travel to Britain in 1885 to visit many of them, including Anne Gilchrist shortly before her death. For more, see Christina Davey, "Costelloe, Mary Whitall Smith (1864–1945)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Edwin Haviland Miller assigns this letter to 1884 on the basis of the following undated entry in Whitman's Commonplace Book after June 2 of that year: "rec'd a most kind & serviceable present, from Mary & Alys Smith & Mrs S. nice new sheets & pillow and bolster cases for my bed." [back]

2. Logan and Alys were Mary's siblings. [back]


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