Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 12 September 1888

Date: September 12, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07238

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 Sept 14, 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.,
12 Sept 1888

Still keeps lovely weather here—in fact more and more pleasant if possible. I go this afternoon to Sarnia to attend (tomorrow morning) the wedding of Miss Pardee2 & Fred. Kittermaster3—the latter a nephew of Mrs. Buckes'.4 I shall return here noon friday & probably write you that evening. Everything quiet here including the meter5 but we expect to be ready to make another step in the matter next week. I do not hear from Gilchrist6—what is he doing? I suppose you see a good deal of him?

Always affectionately yours
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 | SP 12 | 88 | CANADA; CAMDEN, N.J. | SEP | 14 | 6AM | 1888 | REC'D. [back]

2. Louisa Helen Pardee (1865–1950) was the daughter of Timothy Blair Pardee (1830–1889), a Canadian lawyer and politician. [back]

3. Frederick William Kittermaster (?–1904) was a lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario; he married Louisa Helen Pardee (1865–1950), the daughter of the Canadian lawyer and politician Timothy Blair Pardee, in 1888. [back]

4. 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]

5. Bucke and his brother-in-law William John Gurd were designing a gas and fluid meter to be patented in Canada and sold in England. [back]

6. Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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