Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Anne Gilchrist, 15 March 1885

Date: March 15, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02155

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Walt Whitman Collection, 1842–1957, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania. 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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Nicole Gray, and Kyle Barton

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March 15 '85—
328 Mickle street
Camden New Jersey—U S America1

Dear friend

In a letter from John Burroughs a while since he writes me that your article is to appear in To-Day2—When printed I wish Herby w'd get ten copies & send me by mail, (in two packages, five in each)—Nothing very different with me—I am full as well as common—a new & good care-taker for me here in the house, the old ones gone,3 Mrs. Davis, a sailor's widow, young & strong & good-natured, & very kind & attentive—according to indications a blessed change—I am writing a little—Shall probably add to next edition of L of G. at end not more than 30 or 35 pages

After-Songs and A Letter of Parting

the "letter" prose a sort of résumé & talk in general—The old bulk part of the book left all the same as now. I am writing this Sunday afternoon up in my room by wood fire. I suppose you rec'd the Camden Post.

Love to you, & Herb & Grace

Anne Burrows Gilchrist (1828–1885) was the author of one of the first significant pieces of criticism on Leaves of Grass, titled "A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman (From Late Letters by an English Lady to W. M. Rossetti)," The Radical 7 (May 1870), 345–59. Gilchrist's long correspondence with Whitman indicates that she had fallen in love with the poet after reading his work; when the pair met in 1876 when she moved to Philadelphia, Whitman never fully returned her affection, although their friendship deepened after that meeting. For more information on their relationship, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Anne Burrows (1828–1885)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Mrs: Gilchrist | 12 Well Road | Hampstead | London | England. It is postmarked: CAMDEN | MAR | 15 | 5 PM | 1885 | N.J.; PHILADELPHIA | MAR | [illegible]; LONDON, N.W. | M C | MR 26 | 85. [back]

2. Anne Gilchrist's "A Confession of Faith" appeared in To-Day in June. Whitman's "Resurgemus" ("Europe") had appeared in the same magazine the previous September. Whitman did not refer to Gilchrist's letter of February 27, in which she spoke of "bronchial & asthmatic troubles" and of her lasting affection—"you are in my thoughts as constantly as ever though I have been so silent." [back]

3. The Lay family were renting Whitman's Camden home when he bought it, and they stayed there for a month, caring for Whitman, after he moved in. See the letter from Whitman to William D. O'Connor of January 26, 1885[back]


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