Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 22 August 1870

Date: August 22, 1870

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01521

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: Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, and Nicole Gray

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August 22, 1870.

Dear Pete,

I have not heard from you now for nine days. Your letter of 13th1 (last Saturday week,) in which you said the orders were for you to go to work next day, was the last I have received. I took it for granted that you went to work, & have been at it since—& I hope all is right with you—but why have you not written?—Dear son, if not to work I wish to send you a little money.

Every thing goes well with me—that is, every thing goes as well as can be expected—I am feeling first-rate—I am down the bay often, & sometimes spend nearly all day on the sea-shore a few miles down—I am all sunburnt & red, & weigh severeal pounds more than when I left Washington—

A friend who hasn't seen me for a good while said this morning—"Why Walt you are fatter & saucier than ever"—but I will close by sending my love, to my darling son—& to him I shall always be the same old


Peter Doyle (1843–1907) was one of Walt Whitman's closest comrades and lovers, and their friendship spanned nearly thirty years. The two met in 1865 when the twenty-one-year-old Doyle was a conductor in the horsecar where the forty-five-year-old Whitman was a passenger. Despite his status as a veteran of the Confederate Army, Doyle's uneducated, youthful nature appealed to Whitman. Although Whitman's stroke in 1873 and subsequent move from Washington to Camden limited the time the two could spend together, their relationship rekindled in the mid-1880s after Doyle moved to Philadelphia and visited nearby Camden frequently. After Whitman's death, Doyle permitted Richard Maurice Bucke to publish the letters Whitman had sent him. For more on Doyle and his relationship with Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Doyle, Peter," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


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