Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Anne Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 11 March 1876

Date: March 11, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02888

Source: The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, 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, "from Mrs. Gilchrist March 11 '76," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, Ashley Lawson, Eder Jaramillo, John Schwaninger, Marie Ernster, Amanda J. Axley, Stephanie Blalock, and Jeff Hill

page image
image 1
page image
image 2
page image
image 3
page image
image 4

1 Torriano Rd.
March 11./76

I have had such joy this morning, my Darling—Poems of yours given in the "Daily News" sublime Poems (one of them reaching dizzy heights) filling my soul with strong delight. These prefaced by a few words timid enough yet kindly in tone, & better than nothing.—The days, the weeks are slipping by my Beloved, bearing me swiftly surely to you1—before the beauty of the year begins to fade we shall come. The young folk too are full of bright anticipation & eagerness now, I am thankful to say; and Per2 getting on with I trust such near & definite prospect of his happiness that he will be able to pull along cheerily towards it after we are gone in spite of loneliness.

I expect Darling we must go to some little town or village ten or twenty miles short of Philadelphia till the tremendous influx of visitors to the Centennial3 has ceased, else we shall not be able to find a corner there.—By the bye I feel a little sulky at your always taking a fling at the poor Piano. I see I have got to try & show you it too is capable of waking deep chords in the human soul when it is the vehicle of a great Master's thought & emotions—if only my poor fingers prove equal to the task! All my heart shall go into them—Take from my picture a long long look of tender love and joy and faith, deathless ever young, ever growing, ever learning aspiring love, tender cherishing, domestic love.

Oh may I be full of sweet comfort for my Beloved's Soul and Body through life, through and after death.

Anne Gilchrist.

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. In 1876, Anne Gilchrist (1828–1885), Whitman's friend and the author of "A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman," one of the first significant pieces of criticism on Leaves of Grass, moved with three of her children (Herbert, Beatrice, and Grace) from England to Philadelphia. The family lived in Philadelphia from 1876 to 1878; Whitman visited their home almost daily and even had his own room. From April 1878, to 1879, the Gilchrists lived in Concord, Boston, and New York, before returning to England. Anne's son Herbert (1857–1914) remained in America and lived in Philadelphia, maintaining a close relationship with Whitman; after Whitman's death in 1892, he returned to England. For more on Whitman and the Gilchrists, 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]

2. Percy Carlyle Gilchrist (1851–1935) was the son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, the only of their four children who did not accompany their mother to Philadelphia in 1876 when she met Whitman, as Percy Gilchrist was newly married to Norah Fitzmaurice at the time. At about the same time, Percy Gilchrist collaborated with his cousin Sidney Gilchrist Thomas on refining the Bessemer process for the mass production of steel from 1875 to 1877. [back]

3. In 1876, the National Centennial commemorated the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Centennial was marked by celebrations across the United States, not the least of which was the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, which ran from May to November 1876 with approximately 10 million visitors in a seven month period. [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.