Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Buxton Forman to Walt Whitman, 24 September 1890

Date: September 24, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02101

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 Oct 16 1890," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Kirby Little, Ryan Furlong, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

page image
image 1
page image
image 2
page image
image 3
page image
image 4
page image
image 5
page image
image 6

46, Marlborough Hill,
St John's Wood,
24 Sept. 18901

Dear Walt Whitman,

Accept my thanks for your "rejoinder" and the newspaper that reached me in the same wrapper bearing your handwriting strongly in evidence on the outside. These occasional packets with which you indulge me give me great pleasure. The hint that you are there, exercising the old vigorous unmistakable pen-craft, and throwing a thought across the sea to this little house, always sends me out of doors feeling better affected than usual towards the dingy humanity and depressing conditions associated with London Business life; and as I pass Gilchrist's2 "good gray" portrait of you sitting in the sun, where it hangs in the passage to be passed 20 times a day, you are vivified for the moment with an extra vitality. Is this nonsense? I think not.

Yours ever
H. Buxton Forman

Henry Buxton Forman (1842–1917), also known as Harry Buxton Forman, was most notably the biographer and editor of Percy Shelley and John Keats. On February 21, 1872, Buxton sent a copy of R. H. Horne's The Great Peace-Maker: A Sub-marine Dialogue (London, 1872) to Whitman. This poetic account of the laying of the Atlantic cable has a foreword written by Forman. After his death, Forman's reputation declined primarily because, in 1934, booksellers Graham Pollard and John Carter published An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets, which exposed Forman as a forger of many first "private" editions of poetry.


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle Street | Camden | New Jersey | U. S. A. It is postmarked: London | 9 7 | SP 25 | 90; Camden, N.J. | Oct | 6 | 6am | 1890 | Rec'd. [back]

2. Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.