Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Emma Elizabeth Pugh Holland to Walt Whitman, 14 February 1891

Date: February 14, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02256

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: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

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Mr Whitman1
Dear Sir

I wish the address of Mrs Alexander2 Gilchrist's3 children4—The Museum of Fine Arts Boston has written me for it—I have the publisher's address of the last edition of Gilchrist's Blake5 but I thought perhaps you could give me the real address more direct than this other. The Museum of Fine Arts is getting out another Blake exhibition—

I enclose a directed envelope—

With many apologies for troubling you

respectfully yours
E.E.P. Holland

Box 456—
February 14th 1891

Please6 | Forward

Emma Elizabeth Pugh ("E.E.P.") Holland (1842–1917) was an art collector in Concord, Massachusetts. Through her paternal grandmother, Holland was a cousin of novelist Louisa May Alcott, and was also a descendant of William Dawes Jr., an American Revolutionary War patriot. After her death, major pieces of her collection were acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Harvard University, and the Worcester Art Museum. The Holland Family Papers, including Emma Holland's scrapbooks and letters, are held in the Special Collections of the Concord Free Public Library in Concord, Massachusetts.


1. The address and date of composition appear at the end of the letter: Mr Walt Whitman | The Good Gray Poet | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Concord | 1 PM | Feb | 1 [illegible] | Mass.; Camden, N.J. | Feb | 16 | 6 AM | 1891 | Rec'd. [back]

2. Alexander Gilchrist (1828–1861) was the biographer of William Blake and husband of Anne Gilchrist (1828–1885). [back]

3. 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]

4. Alexander and Anne Gilchrist were the parents of four children: Beatrice Carwardine Gilchrist (1854–1881), Grace "Giddy" Gilchrist (1859–1947), Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), and Percy Carlyle Gilchrist (1851–1935). [back]

5. Holland is referring to Alexander Gilchrist's two-volume work Life of William Blake, 'Pictor Ignotus' With selections from his poems and other writings. The first volume was a biography of William Blake (1757–1827) the English poet and painter, and the second volume included Blake's prose, poetry, and artwork. Gilchrist died in 1861 before finishing the book, but the work was completed by his widow Anne Gilchrist with assistance from the writers Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882) and William Michael Rossetti (1829–1919). The volumes were first published in 1863, and another edition was published in 1880. [back]

6. Holland has written "Please Forward" in the bottom left corner of the envelope. [back]


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