Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Serelda G. Thomas to Walt Whitman, 2 December 1891

Date: December 2, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04226

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: Andrew David King, Cristin Noonan, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock

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Woodland, California1
December 2, 1891

My Respected Sir:

I hope you will not consider this impertinent, or improper. The intention is good, and the purpose to do good and to do justice. I would like to review your late works. I would not ask a press copy were I able to buy them. I am certain if you will send me one or more of your late books I can by review and personal attention and effort return more than value received. I have often given personal mention of yourself and books, and will continue to do so. It would be a very great pleasure to receive from you a personal copy of such books as you would care to send. You have grown in favor with our students and readers. Your courage, high honor, fidelity and faith in justice is being rewarded by all real and worthy students. Will you let me have a word from you. I hope my letter will be received in the spirit in which it is sent.

Address all in my name.

Serelda G. Thomas
Lit Ed Democrat

To Walt Whitman Esq
Camden N.J.

Serelda Gilstrap Thomas (1855–1940) was an educator, editor, and a founding member of the Woodland Shakespeare Club. Thomas was a native of La Plata, Missouri, and, in 1877, received a Bachelor of Philosophic Didactics from the North Missouri Normal School (now Truman University) and was valedictorian of her class. She married Charles W. Thomas, a lawyer originally from Kentucky, in 1879, the same year he was admitted to the bar. A wedding announcement in a local newspaper describes her as "one of La Plata's most accomplished, intelligent, and refined ladies" (La Plata Home Press [May 10 1879], 4). She received a Master of Arts and of Philosophic Didactics from North Missouri Normal School the following year. The couple moved to Woodland, California, in 1885 and remained there for the rest of their lives. In an article on "The Function of the Reviewer" for the Woodland Democrat, Serelda Thomas writes, "to think over the great thoughts after great minds is to be well-read. It is also the province of the critic or reviewer to direct readers to these rich, immortal fields" (reprinted in The Critic no. 307 [November 16 1889], 247). For more information, see her obituary, "Mrs. S. G. Thomas Dies in Woodland," The Sacramento Bee (December 18, 1940), 9.


1. Thomas wrote this letter to Whitman on the back of a typed form letter written on the letterhead of a Woodland, California, newspaper titled The Democrat. The form letter, signed by Thomas, is a general appeal to publishers, printers, and editors to send copies of recently published books and information about the histories of publishing houses. [back]


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