Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Alfred, Lord Tennyson to Walt Whitman, 15 January 1887

Date: January 15, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04273

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.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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Isle of Wight.

Dear old man,

I the elder old man have received your Article in the Critic, & send you in return my thanks & New-Year's greeting on the wings of this East-wind, which, I trust, is blowing softlier & warmlier on your good gray head than here, where it is rocking the elms & ilexes of my Isle of Wight garden.1

Yours always

Jany. 15th 1887

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) succeeded William Wordsworth as poet laureate of Great Britain in 1850. The intense male friendship described in In Memoriam, which Tennyson wrote after the death of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, possibly influenced Whitman's poetry. Whitman wrote to Tennyson in 1871 or late 1870, probably shortly after the visit of Cyril Flower in December, 1870, but the letter is not extant (see Thomas Donaldson, Walt Whitman the Man [New York: F. P. Harper, 1896], 223). Tennyson's first letter to Whitman is dated July 12, 1871. Although Tennyson extended an invitation for Whitman to visit England, Whitman never acted on the offer.


1. Of this letter Walt Whitman observed: "Tennyson is an artist even when he writes a letter: this letter is protected all round from indecision, forwardness, uncertainty: it is correct—choice, final" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, April 15, 1888.). [back]


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