Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William D. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 1 November 1888

Date: November 1, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03350

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 Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

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Washington, D.C.1
November 1, 1888.

Dear Walt:

I was so impressed with the letter Mr. Stetson2 wrote a year ago about the calendar, that I got Grace3 to send it to me from California, and enclose you a copy, thinking you might like to see it. You can return it sometime, as I have sent back the original.

It does not say much, to be sure, but it has large import, and makes me long for such a mind to do the calendar. Don't you think so?

—The eye is as bad as ever, and I see with difficulty.

Always faithfully.
W. D. O'C

William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication, published in 1866. 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).


1. This letter is addressed: Mr. Walt Whitman, | 328 Mickle Street, | Camden, | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Washington D.C. | Nov 1 | 8 PM | 88; Camden, N.J. | Nov | 2 | 6am | 1889 | Rec'd. [back]

2. Charles Walter Stetson (1858–1911) was a visual artist, often described as a "colorist." He married writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1884, and the couple divorced amicably in 1894. Soon after, he married Grace Ellery Channing. [back]

3. Grace Ellery Channing (1862–1937) was a writer and editor. She was the niece of William D. O'Connor. In 1894 she married artist Charles Walter Stetson, soon after his divorce from Channing's lifelong friend, writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman. After her initial refusal to ever read Whitman's work, Channing became enthralled by the poet's words and, in 1887, had the idea of creating an illustrated calendar with excerpts from Leaves of Grass. The illustrations would be made by Walter Stetson. The project was never realized. For more on the calendar project, see see Joann Krieg, "Grace Ellery Channing and the Whitman Calendar," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 12:4 (1995), 252–256. Channing published her own volume of Whitman-inspired poetry titled Sea-Drift in 1899. [back]


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