Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Roden Noel to Walt Whitman, 3 November 1871

Date: November 3, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01811

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, "see notes July 5 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Beverley Rilett, Ashley Lawson, John Schwaninger, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Cristin Noonan, Paige Wilkinson, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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Working Station
Nov 3 1871

My dear sir,

I send by this mail the second part of my study of your works. I hope I may not unintentionally have misrepresented you; but if I could be one of the means of drawing more general attention to your great works than they have yet received in this country, I believe I should have done somet'g worth the doing.

May I venture to hope I may have a line from yourself when you have time? And may I again repeat the hope I expressed to you in a former note1 (when I sent you my own vol. of poems)—the first—of which I am rather ashamed of now—on account of its Byronism2—& too much leaven of aristocracy which is born with me—that you will not visit this country without coming to us?

Yours with much respect
& in all sincerity
Roden Noel

I want to get hold of the American Ed. of your work—which was lent me by Buchanan3 but I understand it is difficult to procure.

The proclamation of comradeship seems to me the grandest & most momentous fact in your work & I heartily thank you for it.

Walt Whitman Esq

Roden Noel (1834–1894) was an English poet. Noel came from an aristocratic English family, and in his youth developed socialist sympathies. He was a close friend of the poet and influential critic Robert Buchanan, and it may have been through Buchanan that Noel first encountered Leaves of Grass in 1871 (the same year that he first wrote to Whitman). In 1871, Noel published an essay entitled "A Study of Walt Whitman" in The Dark Blue (Harold Blodgett, Walt Whitman in England [Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1934], 147–149).


1. This letter has not been located. [back]

2. George Gordon Byron (1788–1824), often referred to simply as "Lord Byron," was an English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. He is famous for his poems, including "She Walks in Beauty," "When We Two Parted," and "So, we'll go no more a-roving," and infamous for his scandalous affairs and celebrity status. [back]

3. Robert Buchanan (1841–1901), Scottish poet and critic, had lauded Whitman in the Broadway Annual in 1867, and in 1872 praised Whitman but attributed his poor reception in England to the sponsorship of William Michael Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne. See Harold Blodgett, Walt Whitman in England (1934), 79–80, and Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer (1955), 445–446. Swinburne's recantation later in 1872 may be partly attributable to Buchanan's injudicious remarks. For more on Buchanan, see Philip W. Leon, "Buchanan, Robert (1841–1901)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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