Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Ellen M. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 26 March 1889

Date: March 26, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02973

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: Kirby Little, Caterina Bernardini, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock



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March 26. 1889.1

Dear Walt.

I think every one of these dreadful attacks leaves William2 worse. He has not yet recovered his balance, & is all mixed in his mind. He is also very weak in body. He is very restless at times after the attack passes off. This last period did not seem so severe, & yet the result has been prolonged. It is most bad & pitiful, & I am glad you can't see him.

with love—
N.


Correspondent:
Ellen M. "Nelly" O'Connor was the wife of William D. O'Connor (1832–1889), one of Whitman's staunchest defenders. Whitman dined with the O'Connors frequently during his Washington years. Though Whitman and William O'Connor would temporarily break off their friendship in late 1872 over Reconstruction policies with regard to emancipated black citizens, Ellen would remain friendly with Whitman. The correspondence between Whitman and Ellen is almost as voluminous as the poet's correspondence with William. For more on Whitman's relationship with the O'Connors, see Dashae E. Lott, "William Douglas O'Connor," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, ed., (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. This postal card is addressed: Walt Whitman, | Camden, | New Jersey. It is postmarked: WASHINGTON | MAR 26 | 10 PM | 89 | D.C. There is also Camden, N.J. postmark, but only the city and the date of "MAR 27" are legible. [back]

2. William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet "The Good Gray Poet," published in 1866 (a digital version of the pamphlet is available at "The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication"). For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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