Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: George H. Kersley to Walt Whitman, 8 April 1887

Date: April 8, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02589

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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315 E 14th St
New York
April 8th 1887.

Dear Mr. Whitman

I intended writing to you to wish you good bye, but have just heard there is a chance of my seeing you next week at Madison Square Theatre,1 so of course, I shall be there. Will there be any chance of my getting to speak to you? If there are to be any people on the platform by you, & you could get me a place, I should feel the honour greatly.

I sincerely hope your jaunt to the theatre with us, & by breaking the monotony, did you good.

Ernest Rhys2 has written to me for a little news about you & to ask me to see him in town to report all I know.

How beautiful the New York harbour is! I greatly enjoy seeing the in-coming & out-going ships bathed in the clear spring sunlight. I have much to thank you for—your works give me hope & joy, while the time spent with you was the most gratifying spent in this country.

I intend to write to you from England, & at all times, if I can do anything for you, it will most willingly be done.

Praying to God that He will send his blessings upon you, like rain upon a grand old oak.

I remain proud to call myself your admiring friend

Geo Herbert Kersley

George Herbert Kersley was a poet, actor, and friend of Oscar Wilde. Apparently he visited Whitman alongside Silvanus Dauncey in late January of 1887 when both left their addresses in Whitman's daybook before taking the poet and his housekeeper Mary Davis to a play in which they performed as part of Wilson Barrett's Company.


1. Whitman gave his Lincoln lecture at Madison Square Theatre in New York on April 14, 1887. James B. Pond recounts it as follows: "It was indeed a picturesque spectacle at Walt's last appearance in the Madison Square Theatre, on Lincoln's birthday. Just as he was about to recite 'My Captain,' a little girl, the granddaughter of Edmund Clarence Stedman, walked out upon the stage and presented him with a beautiful bouquet of roses" (Eccentricities of Genius [New York: G. W. Dillingham Co.], 497). [back]

2. Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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