Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Jeannette L. Gilder, 20 December 1878

Date: December 20, 1878

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07006

Source: Transcript held in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 6:19. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman and Nicole Gray

Camden New Jersey
Dec 20

My dear Jenny Gilder1

Yours of to-day rec'd—(The other also—but I thought you merely contemplated it like, & no hurry)—I only write now in haste to say I will help you to any thing on the subject you desire—Will turn it over in my mind to write more fully Sunday, so you will get it Monday.

Walt Whitman

I have a notion that the raciest part of a fellow's life—mine at any rate—could be told by giving copious strings of characteristic fine personal anecdotes, incidents—&c—

Jenny, what is it for?


1. Early in December Jeannette L. Gilder wrote to Whitman, in his words, "that she is going to write my life & asking for items &c" (Walt Whitman, The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–69], 3:141). Although Whitman complied with her request, nothing came of the proposal. About the same time, in a letter to John Burroughs of December 23–25, 1878, Whitman wrote: "(I would like best to be told about in strings of continuous anecdotes, incidents, mots, thumbnail personal sketches, characteristic & true—)." The biographical principle enunciated here was to be followed scrupulously a few years letter by Richard Maurice Bucke in his biography of the poet. [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.