Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe to Walt Whitman, 1 September 1888

Date: September 1, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01372

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.

Contributors to digital file: Jeannette Schollaert, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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S. Wales
1st September 1888.

Dear Mr. Whitman,

I am writing this note to introduce to thee our friend Mr. William Summers,2 who is a Member of Parliament. He will be able to give thee an interesting inside view of English political life, for he is Junior Whip to the Liberal Party.

I am glad to take this chance to send warm rememberances from all of us & our hopes that thy health is standing the summer weather.

Believe me,

Thine sincerely,
Mary Whitall Cosetlloe

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. Costelloe has crossed out the address printed at the top of the letterhead, replacing 44, GROSVENOR ROAD, | WESTMINSTER EMBANKMENT, S.W. with the Llwynbarried Rhayader address. [back]

2. The Irishman William Summers (1853–1893) was a member of the British Parliament, junior whip of the Liberal Party, and strong proponent of Irish home rule. He visited Whitman on September 26, 1888. His account of the visit was published in The Pall Mall Gazette on October 18, 1888. Whitman said of the visit that "Summers hit me hard. He made a grand show-up—had fine ways—was young, strong, optimistic" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, September 26, 1888). [back]


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