Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe, 3 January 1887

Date: January 3, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01355

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, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Camden Jan. 3 '87—P M1

Henry Norman, of the Pall Mall Gazette has sent me £81 over, in a very kind & good letter—enclosing some printed slips from paper—one written by you ab't my Camden entourage—very satisfactory & right to me—In the Reminiscences stick as much as possible to personal descriptions, anecdotes, & sayings—& don't make me too good—I am no angel by a long shot2

Walt Whitman

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. It is postmarked: Camden | Jan | [illegible] | 6 PM | 1887 | N.J. [back]

2. On January 17 Mary Costelloe wrote to Walt Whitman: "I am afraid by a curious fatality all thy biographers want to make thee out too good for thy liking! Has thee never thought of expanding the Specimen Days into Autobiographical sketches? Then thee could tell the world thy wickedness to the full, which thy friends are so uncomprehending as not to see!" See also the letter from Whitman to Costelloe of September 27, 1886[back]


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