Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe, 27 September 1886

Date: September 27, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01353

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.

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

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Camden New Jersey
U S. America1
Sept 27 '86

Yours from Etretat rec'd & welcomed warmly—also the picture—Logan and Alys have arrived2—I have not seen them, but shall soon no doubt—I remain much as usual.—I drove out a long jaunt Sunday—Yes, dear M, I have no objection to your writing or collating the "reminiscences" you speak of—actual occurrences, anecdotes, conversations, delineations, personalities, plus—criticisms minus3


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. This postal card is addressed: Mrs: Costelloe | 40 Grosvenor Road | the Embankment | London England | S W. It is postmarked: CAMDEN | SEP | 27 | 1 30 PM | 1886 | N.J. [back]

2. Mary's brother Logan called on September 26, but Whitman was not in. Mary's father Robert Pearsall Smith and her sister Alys visited the poet on October 9 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

3. Mrs. Costelloe's article about Whitman's "Camden entourage" appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette on December 23: "Walt Whitman at Camden. | By One who has been there." [back]


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