Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Hannah W. Smith to Walt Whitman, 13 March 1889

Date: March 13, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03713

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "Hannah Whitall Smith," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Kirby Little, Breanna Himschoot, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock

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Mary's1 second little daughter was born on Sunday the 10th of March. Both are doing very well. Mary sends her love to you. We hope you are comfortable in health.

Yours truly
H. W. Smith

40 Grosvenor Rd.
London S. W.

Hannah Whitall Smith (1832–1911) was a Quaker preacher and writer born in Philadelphia. She is best remembered for her 1875 The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life and her 1903 The Unselfishness of God and How I Discovered it: A Spiritual Autobiography. She was married to Robert Pearsall Smith in 1851 and her surviving children were Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe (Berenson), Logan Pearsall Smith, and Alys Pearsall Smith (Debra Campbell, "Hannah Whitall Smith (1831–1911): Theology of the Mother–Hearted God," Signs [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989, 15:1], 79–101).


1. Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe (1864–1945) was a political activist, art historian, and critic, whom Whitman once called his "staunchest living woman friend." A scholar of Italian Renaissance art and a daughter of Robert Pearsall Smith, she would in 1885 marry B. F. C. "Frank" Costelloe. She had been in contact with many of Whitman's English friends and would travel to Britain in 1885 to visit many of them, including Anne Gilchrist shortly before her death. For more, see Christina Davey, "Costelloe, Mary Whitall Smith (1864–1945)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle Street | Camden | New Jersey | U.S.A. It is postmarked: London S. W. | MR13 | 81l; Paid | K | All. There is also a New York postmark, but only the state name is legible. [back]


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