Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Ellen M. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 8 November 1889

Date: November 8, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02982

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, Ashlyn Stewart, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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Nov. 8. 1889.1

I have just this day sent word to Horace Traubel2 that I hope to see you next week, & to-night I get your postal sent from Boston, to me here, South Weymouth, Mass.3 Very glad to hear from you. I must now turn my face homeward. I hoped to gain more, but am so much better than I was that I hope I shall gain more. I will send word again.

With love always,
Nelly O'Connor.


Correspondent:
Ellen M. "Nelly" O'Connor was the wife of William D. O'Connor (1832–1889), one of Whitman's staunchest defenders. Before marrying William, Ellen Tarr was active in the antislavery and women's rights movements as a contributor to the Liberator and to a women's rights newspaper Una. 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, "O'Connor, William Douglas [1832–1889]," 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: South Weymouth | Nov | 9 | 1889 | Mass.; Camden, N.J. | Nov | 11 | 6am | 1889 | Rec'd. [back]

2. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the mid-1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. O'Connor is likely referring to Whitman's postal card of November 7, 1889[back]


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