Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe, 10 October 1887

Date: October 10, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01371

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 derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock



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Camden New Jersey America1
Oct 10 '87

Yours from Scotland rec'd.2 Your father has been here twice & is evidently hearty & happy—Logan3 is coming home for good & the folks are most happy to have him—I authorize you to unbox the head4—call in the help & advice of Ernest Rhys,5 (if you feel so inclined) & carry out the Kensington Museum project, if you like—I however hereby give you full power in the matter, & confirm what you do whatever it is—I am ab't as usual & go out riding frequently—pleasant fall weather here—I am sitting by the open window writing


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. This postal card is addressed: Mrs: Costelloe | 40 Grosvenor Road | the Embankment | London | England. It is postmarked: [illegible]en, N.J. | [illegible] | [illegible] PM | 87. [back]

2. This letter does not seem to be extant. [back]

3. Logan Pearsall Smith (1865–1946) was Mary's brother. For more information on Smith, see Christina Davey "Smith, Logan Pearsall (1865–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. The "head" is in reference to Sidney Morse's sculpture of Whitman (see Whitman's letter to Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe of September 14, 1887). [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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