Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Louisa Orr Whitman to Walt Whitman, [12 May 1873]

Date: May 12, 1873

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05416

Source: 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, "sister Lou," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Jonathan Y. Cheng, Elizabeth Lorang, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Nicole Gray

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Sunday 5 P. M.

Dear Brother Walt.

I expect you will be a little surprised to hear from me, when mother writes to you so often, but she has seemed so very anxious to see you lately and wearies so much about you, that I thought I would urge the matter some I hope that you will come as soon as you feel you are able I have been kind of miserable this spring, but am feeling pretty well again, and we have no trouble housekeeping, as an Aunt of mine, came to pay me a visit a week before I was sick, and when I was taken sick, she very kindly stayed with us, and has taken all the care off my shoulders, so you will not be any trouble at all, come when you will. If you could only have been with us during your sickness I should have been glad.

Mattie's sickness and death, and your trouble, has wearied mother a great deal this winter, and now she seems to be suffering from a nervous prostration. The doctor says it is not the dyspepsia, that her nerves are all out of order, she lays down sometimes during the day, but not often, and she is very tremulous, and discouraged about herself. Yesterday she seemed better, but to day is quite miserable. How we all wish you were here, we think it would do her good

George and Eddie are both well. It has been cloudy all day, with light rains, and in fact has rained for three days, the weather is enough to make one gloomy. Walt if you please dont mention to mother when you write that you received this.

George wanted me to urge your coming as soon as you could

With much love from all

Louisa Orr Haslam Whitman (1842–1892), called "Loo" or "Lou," married Whitman's brother George Whitman on April 14, 1871. Their son, Walter Orr Whitman, was born in 1875 but died the following year. A second son was stillborn. Whitman lived in Camden, New Jersey, with George and Louisa from 1873 until 1884, when George and Louisa moved to a farm outside of Camden and Whitman decided to stay in the city. Louisa and Whitman had a warm relationship during the poet's final decades. For more, see Karen Wolfe, "Whitman, Louisa Orr Haslam (Mrs. George) (1842–1892)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


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