Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Josephine Webling to Walt Whitman, 11 November 1891

Date: November 11, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04848

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, "Josephine Weblin," is in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Ethan Heusser, Andrew David King, Alex Ashland, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock

page image
image 1
page image
image 2
page image
image 3
page image
image 4

90 East 22nd Street.
New York City. N.Y.1
November 11th 1891.

My dear Walt Whitman:

I am writing to you reverently and humbly and yet with a feeling that I may do so friendlily, for, for a long time, you have been a friend to me through your poems, and I am very very grateful to you for what you have written so nobly and fearlessly, and for the wider thoughts, and greater aims, that have come to me in reading and in learning what you write. Will you pardon me for saying this, I have only been in your country for some few days, when I left England I was glad to think that perhaps I might see you some day, perhaps speak to you—as it is I venture to write to you and to ask you one great favour, that if you will do me will make me forever grateful and honoured.

Dear Walt Whitman, will you write your name in "The Leaves of Grass" I am sending by this post, I have had the book for a long time, to have your name in it will make it priceless and doubly dear to me, and it will seem to me while I treasure it as a hand-clasp from someone that I love and reverence and honour.

Goodbye, dear Walt Whitman, I send you, if I may, all good wishes for your welfare; may all the happiness be with you that you would have.

Affectionately and faithfully I am yours
Josephine Webling

Josephine Emma Webling Watts (1862–1942) was an English-born actress and lecturer. She began her stage career at a young age, appearing in London theatricals together with her sisters, Peggy, Lucy, and Rosalind. The sisters performed for the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII, and completed an American tour in the early 1890s. Around 1900, Josephine moved to the United States and married Alfred Allen Watts, a Canadian printer. For more information, see Watts's obituary, "Mrs. Jospehine Watts Services Conducted," in The Courier–News (Bridgewater, New Jersey [April 15, 1942], 4).


1. This letter is addressed: To Walt Whitman Esqr | Mickle Street. | Camden. | New Jersey. It is postmarked: NEW YORK | NOV 16 | 11 AM | F; 91; [CA]MDEN, N.J. | NOV 17 | 6 AM | 91 | [R]EC'D. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.