Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: S. Nowell to Walt Whitman, 8 October 1890

Date: October 8, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03152

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: Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, Paige Wilkinson, and Stephanie Blalock



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S.S. "British Prince."
Voy. No.
Oct. 8 1890
Phila

Dear Walt Whitman

I have been honored with a small commission by W. Wallace1 and Dr. Johnston2 of Bolton England for you, a blanket of Bolton manufacture.3 I shall take the opportunity of calling with it at yr earliest leisure about Noon of one day this week, unless inconvenient to you, when I will send it.

Trusting you are in good health & hoping to renew my acquaintance with you

I am your faithfully
S. Nowell


Correspondent:
Little is known about Samuel Nowell, the captain of the SS British Prince, except that he did make arrangements for J. W. Wallace to gain passage on the already fully-booked British Prince for Wallace's 1891 journey to the U.S. to meet Whitman; see Dr. John Johnston to Walt Whitman (August 19, 1891). Nowell clearly had some interest in Whitman’s work: see James W. Wallace to Walt Whitman (March 13, 1891).

Notes:

1. James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Wallace, along with Dr. John Johnston (1852–1927), a physician in Bolton, founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Wallace, see Larry D. Griffin, "Wallace, James William (1853–1926)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Dr. John Johnston (1852–1927) of Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, was a physician, photographer, and avid cyclist. Johnston was trained in Edinburgh and served as a hospital surgeon in West Bromwich for two years before moving to Bolton, England, in 1876. Johnston worked as a general practitioner in Bolton and as an instructor of ambulance classes for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways. He served at Whalley Military Hospital during World War One and became Medical Superintendent of Townley's Hospital in 1917 (John Anson, "Bolton's Illustrious Doctor Johnston—a man of many talents," Bolton News [March 28, 2021]; Paul Salveson, Moorlands, Memories, and reflections: A Centenary Celebration of Allen Clarke's Moorlands and Memories [Lancashire Loominary, 2020]). Johnston, along with the architect James W. Wallace, founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Johnston, see Larry D. Griffin, "Johnston, Dr. John (1852–1927)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. On Wednesday, October 8, 1890, Horace Traubel notes that Whitman received a letter from Captain Noell [sic] stating that Johnston and Wallace had given him a blanket of Bolton manufacture to deliver personally to the poet in Camden. Traubel notes a few days later on October 14: "W. said Captain Noell [sic] had been in with the blanket" (With Walt Whitman in Camden). [back]


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