Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Marjorie Cook to Walt Whitman, 19 May 1889

Date: May 19, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05858

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: Whitman drew a line through this autograph request from eleven-year-old Marjorie Cook and used the back of her letter to write notes and instructions related to the binding of the limited pocket-book edition of Leaves of Grass, which was published in 1889.

Contributors to digital file: Andrew David King and Stephanie Blalock

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St Caroline's Court Hotel
Elizabeth St.
Chicago Illinois.
May 19. 1889

Dear Mr Whitman:

I am a little girl eleven years old and am trying to get a collection of autographs.1

Could you be so kind as to send me yours? I should prize it very highly.

Yours respectfully,
Marjorie Cook

Marjorie Hempstead Cook Gelm (1877–1941) was born in Burlington, Iowa, to Henry Trevor Cook and Eliza C. Hempstead. Her mother's family was descended from Sir Robert Hempstead, the founder of Hempstead, Long Island, and Gelm was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution through her ancestor Stephen Hempstead (1752–1832), who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Sometime in the 1880s, the Cook family moved to Chicago, where Marjorie met Captain George Gelm, whom she married in 1898. Upon George Gelm's retirement from the U.S. Navy in 1928, the couple moved to New York City. Marjorie Gelm died in Mt. Sinai Hospital, Manhattan, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. For more information, see her obituary, "Mrs. George E. Gelm Dies; of Pioneer L. I. Family" (Brooklyn Daily Eagle [April 29, 1941], 11).


1. Cook wrote Whitman a second letter, also requesting his autograph, a few months later. See Cook's letter of September 25, 1889[back]


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