Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Dr. John Johnston to Walt Whitman, 14 July 1890

Date: July 14, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05039

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 annotation, "OK," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Related item: Whitman drew a line in black ink through this letter from Johnston. On the back of the letter, he composed several paragraphs of autobiographical notes.

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King, Cristin Noonan, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock



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S.S "British Prince"
Philadelphia
July 14th, 1890

Dear Walt Whitman,

I have just arrived from England1 and I purpose calling upon you tomorrow (Tuesday) probably about noon when I trust it may be convenient for you to see me.

With kindest regards and best wishes
I remain
Yours affectionately
J. Johnston.

of Bolton
Lancashire
England

To Walt Whitman
328 Mickle St.
Camden
N. Jersey


Correspondent:
Dr. John Johnston (1852–1927) of Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, was a physician, photographer, and avid cyclist. Johnston was trained in Edinburgh and served as a hospital surgeon in West Bromwich for two years before moving to Bolton, England, in 1876. Johnston worked as a general practitioner in Bolton and as an instructor of ambulance classes for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways. He served at Whalley Military Hospital during World War One and became Medical Superintendent of Townley's Hospital in 1917 (John Anson, "Bolton's Illustrious Doctor Johnston—a man of many talents," Bolton News [March 28, 2021]; Paul Salveson, Moorlands, Memories, and reflections: A Centenary Celebration of Allen Clarke's Moorlands and Memories [Lancashire Loominary, 2020]). Johnston, along with James W. Wallace, founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Johnston, see Larry D. Griffin, "Johnston, Dr. John (1852–1927)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. Johnston visited Whitman in the summer of 1890. Accounts of Johnston's visits can be found in Johnston and James W. Wallace's Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–91 (London, England: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd., 1917). [back]


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