Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 14 November [1873]

Date: November 14, 1873

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01622

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "1873," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, and Nicole Gray

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431 Stevens st.
cor West
Friday afternoon Nov. 14.

Dear Pete, dear son,

I am sitting here in my room again writing to you—there is no particular change in the situation—we are having some pretty cold weather here—I go out a little every day, but my walking does not improve any—I had a partially bad spell yesterday afternoon, & did not go out, but it passed over, & to-day I feel as well as I usually have lately—I shall get out this afternoon, & over to the Reading room in Philadelphia—(Looking over the papers, I see occasionally very interesting news, about myself—a paper in Salt Lake, Utah, had me dead,—& the Philadelphia Item, about the same time, had me at a public dinner, in Phil. making a speech.) I rec'd your last. I suppose you got mine last Tuesday—

—I have just had my dinner, bean soup, boiled beef, & pumpkin-pie, all good—so you see I might be doing worse—it is now just after 2, & I am feeling quite comfortable—& hope this will find you all right, my loving boy—


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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