Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Alfred, Lord Tennyson to Walt Whitman, 14 May 1891

Date: May 14, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04274

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 notes: The annotation, "427 Chestnut | [illegible] 5/25," is in an unknown hand. The annotation, "May 26 1891," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King, Cristin Noonan, and Stephanie Blalock

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Isle of Wight.1

My dear W. W.

All health & happiness to you on your birthday2 & henceforward

Yours ever
May 14th—91

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. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esqr | Care of / Horace Traubel Esq | The Contemporary Club | Philadelphia | U S America. It is postmarked: SCHOOL GREEN | B | MY 14 | 91 | ISLE OF WIGHT; [illegible]A [illegible]; RECEIVED | May | 24 | 12 [illegible] | 12 | [illegible]; 2. [back]

2. Whitman's seventy-second (and last) birthday, May 31, 1891, was celebrated with friends at his home on Mickle Street. He described the celebration in a letter to Dr. John Johnston of Bolton, England, dated June 1, 1891: "We had our birth anniversary spree last evn'g — ab't 40 people, choice friends mostly—12 or so women—Tennyson sent a short and sweet letter over his own sign manual . . . lots of bits of speeches, with gems in them—we had a capital good supper." [back]


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