Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Francis Wilson to Walt Whitman, 16 January 1891

Date: January 16, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04637

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, "see | notes | Jan 16 | 1891," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

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

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Jany. 16th 18911

My dear Mr Whitman,

Will you accept this accompanying package as a sort of kindling wood accompaniment to the sun-set breeze.2 I am assured that it is the best of its kind and the very best of anything is not too good for Walt Whitman—at least that is the opinion of

Yours Sincerely,
Francis Wilson

Mr Walt Whitman
(Chestnut st theatre)3

Francis Wilson (1854–1935) was an actor, playwright, and memoirist. He would go on to become the founding president of Actor's Equity.


1. This letter is addressed: Mr Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle st. | Camden, | N.J. There is no postmark or stamp on the envelope. [back]

2. In his January 13, 1891 letter, to Whitman, Joseph M. Stoddart announced that he was going to visit the poet with a number of other people, including the actor Francis Wilson. As Whitman told Traubel the visit was brief but "brightening" (With Walt Whitman in Camden, Thursday, January 15, 1891). The next day Traubel reported that Whitman received the letter from Wilson (With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, January 16, 1891). This letter was accompanied by a bottle of Old Crow Whiskey, which is the "kindling wood" Wilson refers to here. [back]

3. The Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia had a long history; it was founded in 1791. After burning down twice (once in 1820, a second time in 1856), the theatre was rebuilt several blocks from its previous location, where it thrived until 1913, when it closed permanently. [back]


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