Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 2 January [1874]

Date: January 2, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01634

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

Editorial notes: The annotations, "1874," and "'74?," are in an unknown hand.

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

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

431 Stevens st.
cor West.
Camden, N.J.
Jan 2–12 M.1

Dear boy,

I am about the same—consider myself improving, if any thing, though slowly enough—Pete I will get you the Dictionary, I will see about it soon. You spoke about the post of baggage master on the through New York train—& the appointment being in Philadelphia. Who appoints them? Tell me more fully about it in your next. I got your last letter, & several papers. To-day I have rec'd a letter from Charles Eldridge—We have had a long rainy & dark time here, but mild—no snow on the ground now—I go out—as I write, the trains are going by about 400 feet off, ringing & smoking—there are 20 a day in full view from here.


I send you a picture for your New Years.

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).


1. We follow Edwin Haviland Miller's example in adopting the dates assigned by Whitman's executors to the correspondence addressed to Doyle in January (The Correspondence, 2:265). Miller notes that all except one of the letters were written on Fridays, and most of them referred to Doyle's search for another position on the railroad. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.