Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Will Williams to Walt Whitman, 31 May 1875

Date: May 31, 1875

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01976

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, "from Will Williams," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

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

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Illustrated Newspaper,
May 31st

Walt Whitman Esq.
Dear Sir,

As one of your admirers, and as the cousin of Mr. Robert Buchanan,2 another of your admirers, I want you to do me a favor—that is, to write me a lyric—something in the style of that on Abraham Lincoln—for a new monthly magazine I am about to bring out. Will you do this?

As a further clue to my identity, I may tell you that I am editor of this paper and English correspondent of Appleton's Journal.

Very faithfully yours,
Will Williams.

P.S. The magazine in question will contain contributions by well-known English and American authors.3

Little is known about Will Williams, who was the literary editor of the Pictorial World and an English correspondent for Appleton's Journal. In 1875, he began conducting a monthly magazine titled, The London Magazine, which had a four-year run.


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esq. | Care of—Gardner Esq. | Photographer, | Washington, | U.S.A. It is postmarked: London | 6 | MY31 | 75. [back]

2. 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]

3. The back of the envelope that accompanied this letter has been used to record a series of calculations. [back]


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