Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Henry S. Tuke to Walt Whitman, 9 March 1891

Date: March 9, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04243

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, "book sent March 24," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

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Dear Sir

My friend Mr Gleeson White,1 (who called on you in November), I think mentioned my name to you as one fond of reading your books.—& he sent me a [flower?] you had picked, with a message of love besides—

Perhaps you have forgotten the incident, but he also tells me, if I send you 25 shillings (or 6 dols.), you would send me the complete edition of your works,2 with perhaps a little autograph note in the fly-leaf. This I should like above all other things & send the money in faith.

I cannot tell you what a blessed thing it was to me when I found your poems, & I could say the same of several other young Englishmen I know—

Believe me, though we can probably never meet,

affectionately yours—
Henry S. Tuke

Mr. Walt Whitman—

Henry Scott Tuke (1858–1929) was an English photographer and painter who specialized in male nudes and maritime themes. Among his acquaintances were Oscar Wilde and John Addington Symonds, who also corresponded with Whitman. Tuke moved to Swanpool in 1885 and painted from a fishing boat that he converted into a floating studio. For more on Tuke's artistic work, see C. Kains-Jackson, "H. S. Tuke, A.R.A.," The Magazine of Art 26 (1902): 337–343.


1. Gleeson White, an Englishman Whitman described as a "middle-aged man very gentlemanly & pleasant," visited Whitman in Camden on November 4, 1890, and gave the poet a "strong acc't of L of G receptivity and popularity" in England See Daybooks & Notebooks, ed. William White (New York: New York University Press, 1978), 2:575. [back]

2. Whitman's Complete Poems & Prose (1888), a volume Whitman often referred to as the "big book," was published by the poet himself—in an arrangement with publisher David McKay, who allowed Whitman to use the plates for both Leaves of Grass and Specimen Days—in December 1888. With the help of Horace Traubel, Whitman made the presswork and binding decisions for the volume. Frederick Oldach bound the book, which included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]


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