Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Herbert Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 6 January 1887

Date: January 6, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03926

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 notes: The annotation, "ans'd," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Related item: Whitman forwarded this letter to Susan Stafford. He wrote his own letter on the verso side to Stafford on January 18, 1887. See loc.03925.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Stephanie Blalock, Marie Ernster, and Amanda J. Axley

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Jan; 6th 1887.
12 Well Road
Hampstead London

My dear Walt:

I send you three pounds £3. [the?] sum being Miss R.E. Powell's1 (Piccard's Rough, St Catherine's Guildford) annual subscription to the Free-Will-offering—sent to Mr. Rossetti2 in form of a cheque, but he sent it on to me to post to you; I should be very glad to see these annual subscriptions increase.

I wonder who wrote the long articles about you in the Pall Mall Gazette?3 I have had a good amicable letter from Dr. Bucke4—what a thoroughly good-natured chap he is!

It is foggy with us; too foggy to paint! though I and Grace5 had a little skating on the 'Club Pond' this morning.

I am getting [ready?] my pictures (2) for the spring Exhibition.

My Book is getting [near?] though not quite through the press: In one of the last chapters, I added, at the last minute, &, to speak, some gossips or "cracks", as the Scotch say, this I exchanged with you down at the Creek under the Walnut tree: when you are writing again, tell me how Mrs. Stafford6 is will you Walt?

With best love to the dear old fellow, from
Herbert H. Gilchrist.

Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Miss R. E. Powell of Guildford, England, was apparently a friend of the Gilchrists. [back]

2. William Michael Rossetti (1829–1915), brother of Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, was an English editor and a champion of Whitman's work. In 1868, Rossetti edited Whitman's Poems, selected from the 1867 Leaves of Grass. Whitman referred to Rossetti's edition as a "horrible dismemberment of my book" in his August 12, 1871, letter to Frederick S. Ellis. Nonetheless, the edition provided a major boost to Whitman's reputation, and Rossetti would remain a staunch supporter for the rest of Whitman's life, drawing in subscribers to the 1876 Leaves of Grass and fundraising for Whitman in England. For more on Whitman's relationship with Rossetti, see Sherwood Smith, "Rossetti, William Michael (1829–1915)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. He is probably referring to the opinion-piece that was published in the column "Occasional Notes" on December 16, 1886. [back]

4. Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

5. Grace "Giddy" Gilchrist (1859–1947) was the youngest child of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist. An aspiring singer, Grace trained as a contralto and married architect Albert Henry Frend in 1897, though the couple divorced twelve years later. Before her marriage to Frend, Grace became involved with playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950); an 1888 letter from Shaw to Grace's brother Herbert Gilchrist suggests that the Gilchrists may have disapproved of Shaw's relationship with Grace. [back]

6. Susan M. Lamb Stafford (1833–1910) was the mother of Harry Stafford (1858–1918), who, in 1876, became a close friend of Whitman while working at the printing office of the Camden New Republic. Whitman regularly visited the Staffords at their family farm near Kirkwood, New Jersey. Whitman enjoyed the atmosphere and tranquility that the farm provided and would often stay for weeks at a time (see David G. Miller, "Stafford, George and Susan M.," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings [New York: Garland Publishing, 1998], 685). [back]


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