Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 24 July 1888

Date: July 24, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07216

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 note: The annotation, "See notes July 26, 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Jeannette Schollaert, Ian Faith, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

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Superintendent's Office.1
London, Ont.,
24 July 1888

We had a terrible rainstorm here yesterday. Nearly as bad as our flood of 5 years ago this same month (July, 83). No great harm done however and this morning the air is clearer and brighter and fresher than ever. I got your card of 21st yesterday also a few more pp. of proofs2 (have the proofs now to p. 96). Surely you are a little on the mend—do you not think so? I do wish however you wd mend a little faster—it is slow and dull work for you I fear. We are well here, Mrs. B.3 &c &c still away (as I told you a few days ago) the little children at home very merry. All goes quietly at the Asylum. Not quite such hard work the last few days, am glad to have a little pause.

Your friend
RM Bucke

Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle Street | Camden | New Jersey | U.S.A. It is postmarked: LONDON | PM | JY 23 | 88 | CANADA; CAMDEN, N.J. | Jul | 26 | 6AM | [illegible] | REC'D. [back]

2. Whitman was having friends help him read proofs for November Boughs. For more on its publication and reception, see November Boughs [1888][back]

3. Jessie Maria Gurd Bucke (1839–1926) grew up in Mooretown, Upper Canada. She was the daughter of William Gurd, an army officer from Ireland. Gurd married Richard Maurice Bucke in 1865. The couple had eight children. [back]


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