Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 2 October 1885

Date: October 2, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04981

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 annotations, "[Boyle O'Reilly?]," "[Stephan?]—Ruskin [illegible]," "Rhys," "Sam Longfellow," and "Curtis," are in an unknown hand.

Related item: A line has been drawn through Bucke's letter in blue crayon, and Whitman wrote a list of names and addresses on the back.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Ian Faith, Nicole Gray, Marie Ernster, Stephanie Blalock, and Amanda J. Axley

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

Asylum for the Insane,
2 Oct 1885

Dear Walt

I have your card of last Wednesday1 I feel greatly concerned at your condition and wish more than ever that you had got up here last spring—we had such a cool summer here that unquestionably you would have been better here than in Camden. I am very anxious to see you and will do so as soon as I can get away from here—I think I told you I had four months holidays beginning 15th of the present month. Shortly after the 15th I hope to see you and then we shall see what can be done. Meantime please write to me as often as you can telling me how you keep.

Affectionately yours
R M Bucke

Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter has not been located. [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.