Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe, 6 March 1887

Date: March 6, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01370

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:73. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock

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Camden—U S America1
March 6 '87

I am feeling fairly in health—& every thing goes comfortably these days—I went over to the theatre yesterday afternoon—had a good ride & jaunt & performance—"Clito"—Wilson Barret2 sent them for me—enjoyed the whole affair—have not had any letter from you now for some time—

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 letter is addressed: Mrs: Mary W Coste [illegible] | 40 Grosvenor Road | the Embankment | London | S W | England. It is postmarked: Ca [illegible]. [back]

2. Wilson Barrett (1846–1904) was a British actor and playwright who was then performing in the United States. He played the lead role in Clito, a new blank-verse drama set in ancient Greece, written by the English dramatist Sydney Grundy (1848–1914) in collaboration with Barrett. Whitman was apparently quite taken with Barrett's acting and even met with him several times in early 1887. [back]


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