Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Percy W. Thompson to Walt Whitman, 15 January 1887

Date: January 15, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05811

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 items: On the back of the first page of Thompson's letter, Whitman wrote prose notes consisting of the words "absorbing," "quench," and "equanimity." On the back of the second page of Thompson's letter, Whitman wrote additional prose notes beginning with "a hindoo poem."

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Stephanie Blalock, and Nicole Gray

page image
image 1
page image
image 2
page image
image 3
page image
image 4

U.S.S. "Crawford," Key West, Fla.,
Jan. 15, 1887.

Walt Whitman, Esq.
Dear Sir:

I am endeavoring to procure a collection of autographs of distinguished Americans1, and as such a collection would be incomplete without your autograph, I trust you will pardon me for2 [illegible]

Percy W. Thomson, Lt., U.S.R.M.

Percy Wallace Thompson (1858–1935?) was born in Washington D.C., and he attended the Virginia Military Institute and Columbian (now George Washington) University. He was a graduate of the Revenue-Cutter Service Academy in 1881 and was the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Corwin during the Spanish-American War. He wrote articles on the Revenue-Cutter service and on maritime history for several publications, including Scribner's Magazine, the New York Sun, and the Boston Herald (Albert Nelson Marquis, ed., The Book of Chicagoans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Chicago, Vol. 2 [Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company, 1911], 669).


1. Whitman was quite annoyed over the many letters he had been recieving from autograph hounds and often complained to his disciple Horace Traubel about them: "Those fellows have one virtue—they always use good paper: and on that I manage to do a good deal of my writing" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, July 27, 1888). On the back of this letter, Whitman began drafting notes for an article about himself, titled "Walt Whitman in Camden," which appeared in The Critic on February 28, 1885, under the signature of George Selwyn. It was reprinted in Authors at Home, ed. J. L. and J. B. Gilder (1888), and in Critic Pamphlet No. 2 (1898). [back]

2. The rest of the body of the letter has been cut away. [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.