Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Herbert Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 9 November 1886

Date: November 9, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02174

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, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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12. Well Road. Hampstead
London, England.
9th November 1886.

My dear Walt:

I posted you six copies of the last circular this afternoon; I think that John Fraser has printed them beautifully, and I told him so.

I have received ten shillings from one Richard Colles1 (A friend of Dowden)2 which I enclose herewith;— "You will kindly consider it annual & I hope not only to increase the sum but have great pleasure of sending it for many years." This I quote from his letter, enclosing the sum.

Colles, then goes on to say something appreciative of my dear mother's Essays; wch pleased and gratified me much.

You will be pleased to hear that I have got over my worries in connection with the contract for my Book:3 Thomas Fisher Unwin signed the agreement last week; and he is now making arrangement with Roberts of Boston to Publish the Book there. Do you know anything of Roberts?4

I am so sorry that I have finished my Labour of Love, the doing of [her?] Biography has been the greatest imaginable comfort and solace to me,—in a sense it has given me another year of her companionship. To create a small literary monument to my mother5 & this such an one should be clothed in pretty dress has been my first consideration— & cudos necessarily plays but a fractional part in it: as is always the case—

I should be glad to hear form you soon—as soon as you get this. Give my love & best remembrances to them all at Glendale6 when next you drive down: and tell me a little about yourself —your drives and friends.

I am immersed in proofs, correcting at the rate of a hundred pages a week.

I have just finished reading Julian Hawthorne's interviews with Lowell,7 [that?] wch the "Pall Mall" series is interested. I have been wondering what you would think of it? If there is anyone you would like me to send circulars to, name him or her, or if you would like to have anymore I will send some more.

I believe Rossetti8 holds still a small amount in trust. With best love and remembrances to my dear old loving Walt

Herbert H. Gilchrist.

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).


1. Whitman would later send Colles two copies of the 1876 edition of Leaves of Grass. See the letter from Whitman to Colles of November 18, 1886[back]

2. Edward Dowden (1843–1913), professor of English literature at the University of Dublin, was one of the first to critically appreciate Whitman's poetry, particularly abroad, and was primarily responsible for Whitman's popularity among students in Dublin. In July 1871, Dowden penned a glowing review of Whitman's work in the Westminster Review entitled "The Poetry of Democracy: Walt Whitman," in which Dowden described Whitman as "a man unlike any of his predecessors. . . . Bard of America, and Bard of democracy." In 1888, Whitman observed to Traubel: "Dowden is a book-man: but he is also and more particularly a man-man: I guess that is where we connect" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, June 10, 1888, 299). For more, see Philip W. Leon, "Dowden, Edward (1843–1913)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings would be published in 1887 with a foreword by William Michael Rossetti. [back]

4. Whitman published his American Institute Poem, After All, Not to Create Only, with Roberts Brothers, a Boston publisher, in 1871. [back]

5. 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). [back]

6. Glendale, New Jersey, was where the Staffords had moved after leaving their farm at Timber Creek, where Whitman had often visited. [back]

7. Julian Hawthorne (1846–1934) was the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne and an American critic and journalist. In October 24, 1886, he published an interview with his mentor James Russell Lowell, in which Lowell apparently called the Prince of Wales "immensely fat"—a quote Lowell later publicly denied. [back]

8. William Michael Rossetti (1829–1915), brother of Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, was an English editor and a champion of Whitman's work. In 1868, Rossetti edited Whitman's Poems, selected from the 1867 Leaves of Grass. Whitman referred to Rossetti's edition as a "horrible dismemberment of my book" in his August 12, 1871, letter to Frederick S. Ellis. Nonetheless, the edition provided a major boost to Whitman's reputation, and Rossetti would remain a staunch supporter for the rest of Whitman's life, drawing in subscribers to the 1876 Leaves of Grass and fundraising for Whitman in England. For more on Whitman's relationship with Rossetti, see Sherwood Smith, "Rossetti, William Michael (1829–1915)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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