Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to [Horace Traubel], [23 January 1891]

Date: [January 23, 1891]

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04945

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 23 '91," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Marie Ernster, Erel Michaelis, Cristin Noonan, Paige Wilkinson, and Stephanie Blalock

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Give my best respects & love to New York friends1—& to all inquirers—am having a rather hard winter—head catarrh & gastric & bladder troubles—Keep fair spirits & hope to print a final & little annex2 this spring to L of G.

God's Blessing to you.
Walt Whitman

Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the late 1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. The correspondent of this letter is likely Horace Traubel, who had written to Whitman on the morning of January 23, 1891, to ask for photographs of the poet. Traubel planned to travel to New York and wanted to bring photos to give to the poet's New York friends. Traubel notes that Whitman had, "slipped a card under the string, along with a memorandum–which [Traubel] immediately took as warrant to write to Somerby an order of 40 copies" (With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, January 23, 1891). [back]

2. Whitman's book Good-Bye My Fancy (1891) was his last miscellany, and it included both poetry and short prose works commenting on poetry, aging, and death, among other topics. Thirty-one poems from the book were later printed as "Good-Bye my Fancy" in Leaves of Grass (1891–1892), the last edition of Leaves of Grass published before Whitman's death in March 1892. For more information see, Donald Barlow Stauffer, "'Good-Bye my Fancy' (Second Annex) (1891)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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