Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Marjorie Cook to Walt Whitman, 25 September 1889

Date: September 25, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04995

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.

Related item: This letter from Marjorie Cook has been crossed out. On the back of it Whitman drafted a poem titled "The Unexpress'd."

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ashlyn Stewart, Breanna Himschoot, and Alex Ashland



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Chicago Illinois.
Sep 25 1889.

Dear Mr Whitman.

I am a little girl eleven years old and am trying to get Autographs. Would you please be so kind as to send me yours? I should prize it very highly.

I already have J. G. Whittier1 Dr. Holmes2 & W. D. Howlls.3

Yours respectfully
Marjorie Cook


Correspondent:
As yet we have no information about this correspondent.

Notes:

1. John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892) earned fame as a staunch advocate for the abolition of slavery. As a poet, he employed traditional forms and meters, and, not surprisingly, he was not an admirer of Whitman's unconventional prosody. For Whitman's view of Whittier, see the poet's numerous comments throughout the nine volumes of Horace Traubel's With Walt Whitman in Camden (various publishers: 1906–1996) and Whitman's "My Tribute to Four Poets," in Specimen Days (Philadelphia: Rees Welsh & Co., 1882–'83), 180–181. [back]

2. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894) was a poet, physician, and well-known essayist. His son, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841–1935), was appointed a Supreme Court justice in 1902. [back]

3. William Dean Howells (1837–1920) was an American realist novelist and literary critic, serving the staff of the New York Nation and Harper's Magazine during the mid 1860s. During his tenure as editor-in-chief of The Atlantic Monthly from 1871 to 1880, he was one of the foremost critics in New York, and used his influence to support American authors like Hamlin Garland, Stephen Crane, and Emily Dickinson. He also brought attention to European authors like Henrik Ibsen, Giovanni Verga, and Leo Tolstoy in particular. Howells was highly skeptical of Whitman's poetry, however, and frequently questioned his literary merit. In an Ashtabula Sentinel review of the 1860 edition Leaves of Grass, Howells wrote, "If he is indeed 'the distinctive poet of America,' then the office of poet is one which must be left hereafter to the shameless and the friendless. for WALT WHITMAN is not a man whom you would like to know." In 1865, Howells would write the first important review of Drum-Taps in the Round Table, demonstrating early signs of his conflicted opinion about Whitman. For more information on Howells, see Goodman, Susan & Dawson, Carl, William Dean Howells: A Writer's Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005). [back]


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