Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Sophia Williams to Walt Whitman, 24 November 1890

Date: November 24, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04878

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 Nov. 25 1890," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ryan Furlong, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

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My dear Mr. Whitman

I am asking some friends to take a cup of tea tomorrow (Tuesday afternoon) between four and six o'clock, with Miss Gale,2 the bright young actress who is supporting Booth3 and Barrett4 at the Chestnut St. Opera house5 this week.

Would it be possible for you to come. I know she would enjoy so much the meeting you and seeing you.

If you cannot come as I fear you cannot, she would prize very much a few words of regret from your own hand. If you will send it to her here, I will see that she gets it.

Miss Gale is one of our most, if not our most promising young actress—

Wishing we might have the pleasure of seeing you.

Very sincerely
Sophia Wells Royce Williams
Nov. 24/90

Sophia Wells Royce Williams (1850–1928) was a writer and frequent visitor (with her husband Talcott Williams) to Whitman's Camden, New Jersey, home.


1. This letter is addressed: Mr. Walt Whitman | 321 Mickle St. | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Philad(?) | Nov 24 | 11PM | 90; Camden, (?) | Nov | 25 | 9AM | 1890 | Rec'd. [back]

2. Minna Gale (1869–1944) was an American actress known for Shakespearean roles early in her career. She later appeared in silent films. [back]

3. Edwin Thomas Booth (1833–1893) was an American actor, famous for performing Shakespeare in the U.S. and Europe, the son of actor Junius Brutus Booth (1796–1852), and the brother of Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth (1838–1865), also an actor. He was the owner of Booth's Theatre in New York. [back]

4. Lawrence Barrett (1838–1891) was an American stage actor who acted in the repertory company of the Boston Museum and later on the London stage. He played numerous parts during his career, including taking on a number of Shakespearean roles, sometimes acting alongside the well-known stage actor Edwin Booth. [back]

5. The Chestnut Street Opera House in Philadelphia opened in 1877. In late November 1890, Booth and Barrett, as part of their acclaimed 1889–1890 tour, performed in several plays there; the plays included Francesca da Rimini, George Henry Boker's 1855 tragedy based on Dante, as well as Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1839 historical play Richelieu, along with Shakespeare's Hamlet, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, and Macbeth. Minna Gale joined Booth and Barrett in a number of these productions; she replaced the renowned Polish actress Helena Modjeska (1840–1909), who had to leave the tour because of an injured ankle. [back]


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