Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Nancy M. Johnson to Walt Whitman, 15 March 1876

Date: March 15, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01833

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, "N M Johnson (order for books—sent March 17, '76)," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Caterina Bernardini, Eder Jaramillo, John Schwaninger, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Marie Ernster, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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506 12 St Washington
March 15/76

To Walt Whitman Poet
Dear Sir

Mr. Marvin1 has given me a prospectus stating that a new Edition of your works is about to be published by yourself in three vols. and that the price of the set will be ten Dollars. Wishing to have these books and also to contribute a trifling amount towards the promulgation of such works of genius as do honor to our country & to humanity, I enclose twenty Dollars which I hope you will accept in payment for one set of the books & as a token of my best wishes for the success of your enterprise and for the speedy restoration of your health that you may be able to continue your contributions to the literature of our country both in prose & Poetry and also that you may yet enjoy the satisfaction of a full appreciation of their merits

With great respect
I am yours truly
N. M. Johnson

Nancy Maria Donaldson Johnson (1794–1890) was a missionary for the American Missionary Society. Nancy, along with her sister Mary, taught freed slaves in South Carolina in 1862 as part of the Port Royal Experiment, which aimed to create hospitals and schools for former slaves. Johnson was also an inventor and created and patented a hand-cranked ice cream freezer. She was the wife of Walter R. Johnson, a professor of chemistry and physics at Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg.


1. Joseph B. Marvin, a friend and an admirer of Whitman's poetry, was from 1866 to 1867 the co-editor of the Radical. He was then appointed as a clerk in the Treasury Department in Washington, on behalf of which he took a trip to London in the late fall of 1875. On October 19, 1875, Whitman wrote a letter to William Michael Rossetti to announce a visit from Marvin. Rossetti gave a dinner for Marvin, which was attended by the following "good Whitmanites": Anne Gilchrist; Joseph Knight, editor of the London Sunday Times; Justin McCarthy, a novelist and writer for the London Daily News; Edmund Gosse; and Rossetti's father-in-law, Ford Madox Brown. [back]


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