Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Emory A. Ellsworth to Walt Whitman, 17 February 1876

Date: February 17, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01946

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.

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

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Office of Davis & Ellsworth,
Civil Engineers and Surveyors.
Edwin D. Davis,
Emory A. Ellsworth.
Holyoke, Mass
February 17Th 1876

Walt Whitman
Respected Sir:1

I began several years since the collection of the autographs of my favorite authors. As a lover of true poetry the name of Walt Whitman is to me [illegible] as worthy than Longfellow2 and Bryan,t3 of [illegible]mbrance. I trust that you may find [illegible]ination to grant this (to me) important [illegible] Please if not too much to ask to [illegible] with a quotation from your writings.—

Yours Very Respectfully
EA Ellsworth

Emory A. Ellsworth (1853–1915) was an 1871 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who went on to work as a civil engineer and architect. He assisted with the construction of the Holyoke Water Works and served as the architect for what was at the time, the campus's Veterinary Lab.


1. Ellsworth's letter is partially obscured by a square of newspaper that has been attached to the paper. The letter is struck through, and Whitman used the back of this letter to write a draft of what would become his March 6, 1876, letter to Bram Stoker. [back]

2. In his time, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) was both a highly popular and highly respected American poet. His The Song of Hiawatha, published the same year as Leaves of Grass, enjoyed sales never reached by Whitman's poetry. When Whitman met Longfellow in June 1876, he was unimpressed: "His manners were stately, conventional—all right but all careful . . . he did not branch out or attract" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Thursday, May 10, 1888, 130). [back]

3. William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878) was famous both as a poet and as the editor-in-chief of the New York Evening Post from 1828 to 1878. [back]


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