Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Ellen Terry to Walt Whitman, 4 January 1888

Date: January 4, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04267

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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Editorial notes: The annotation, "from Ellen Terry," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "See notes March 30 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Jeannette Schollaert, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Grand Pacific Hotel1

Honoured Sir—
& Dear Poet—

I beg you to accept my appreciative thanks for your great kindness in sending me by Mr. Stoker2 the little big book of poems—"As a Strong Bird" etc, &c.—

Since I am not personally known to you I conclude Mr. Stoker "asked" for me—it was good of him—I know he loves you very much.

God bless you Dear Sir—believe me to be with much respect

Yours affectionately
Ellen Terry.

January 4th, 88.

Alice Ellen Terry (1847–1928) was the leading Shakespearean stage actress in London from the 1870s up through the early 1900s. Early in her career, she married the artist George Frederic Watts, who introduced her to prime ministers, photographers, and poets such as Robert Browning and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Terry's connections with eminent artists and her remarkable stage presence made her something of a cultural fascination for poets and pre-Raphaelite artists. Terry's theatrical partner, Sir Henry Irving, was a lifelong friend to Irish author Bram Stoker, who placed her in contact with Whitman. For more on Terry, see Nina Auerbach, Ellen Terry: Player in Her Time (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987).


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Camden | N.J. It is postmarked: CHICAGO.IL [illegible] | JAN 9 | 630PM | 88. There is also a Camden postmark, but only the city and the month (JAN.) are legible. [back]

2. Abraham ("Bram") Stoker (1847–1912) was the author of Dracula, secretary to Sir Henry Irving, and editor of Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving (1906). As a young man, on February 18, 1872, Stoker wrote a personal, eccentric letter to Walt Whitman, which he did not send until February 14, 1876 (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, February 19, 1889). In the earlier letter he had written: "How sweet a thing it is for a strong healthy man with a woman's eyes and a child's wishes to feel that he can speak so to a man [Walt Whitman] who can be if he wishes, father, and brother and wife to his soul" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection; Horace Traubel, ed., With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, May 15, 1889). Stoker visited Whitman in 1884 (Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer (1955), 516). [back]


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