Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 10 April [1874]

Date: April 10, 1874

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01646

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, "1873 or '4," and "74," are in an unknown hand.

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

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431 Stevens st.1
cor West.
N. Jersey.
April 10, 12 M

Dear Pete,

Nothing very new or different in my condition, or any thing else—have hardly been doing as well since I last wrote, as before—but still hope to pull up.—Rec'd your letter last Monday, & the Herald.

Not much of a letter this time, my loving boy—as I dont seem to be able to write much—though, as I sit here, I am not feeling any worse than usual. Ashton has lost his little child; died last Thursday.2 I have just rec'd two letters from Mrs. O'Connor. How does all go with you? Pete, darling, shan't I send you a little money?


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. This postcard is addressed: Pete Doyle, | M street South, | bet 4½ & 6th | Washington | D. C. It is postmarked: Camden | Apr | 10 | N.J. [back]

2. Kitty Ashton, who was nineteen months old, died on April 8. The child mentioned in the letter from Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman of August 30–31, 1868, must also have died. [back]


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