Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Peter Doyle to Walt Whitman, 20 January 1878

Date: January 20, 1878

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04082

Source: The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working Class Camerados, ed. Charley Shively (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 114. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, and Stefan Schöberlein

January 20, 1878

Dear Walt

Thanks for Sending [Autumn Rivulets (?) & "Walt Whitman in 1878," West Jersey Press, January 16, 1878,2 and] to do so soon.3 If the Spirit moves me, I will give you my opinion of the book when I have read it carefully that is if you should care to know my opinion. The photograph...


1. This letter was cut up and used as scrap paper by Whitman for preparing his Lincoln lectures. [back]

2. In January 1878, Whitman sent Peter Doyle a copy of his poem "Autumn Rivulets" and a West Jersey Press story about the poet (Daybooks and Notebooks, ed. William White [New York: New York University Press, 1978] 1:79). [back]

3. Peter Doyle (1843–1907) was one of Walt Whitman's closest comrades and lovers, and their friendship spanned nearly thirty years. The two met in 1865 when the twenty-one-year-old Doyle was a conductor in the horsecar where the forty-five-year-old Whitman was a passenger. Despite his status as a veteran of the Confederate Army, Doyle's uneducated, youthful nature appealed to Whitman. Although Whitman's stroke in 1873 and subsequent move from Washington to Camden limited the time the two could spend together, their relationship rekindled in the mid-1880s after Doyle moved to Philadelphia and visited nearby Camden frequently. After Whitman's death, Doyle permitted Richard Maurice Bucke to publish the letters Whitman had sent him. For more on Doyle and his relationship with Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Doyle, Peter," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.