Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 25 January 1889

Date: January 25, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07291

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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from The Letters of Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, ed. Artem Lozynsky (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Breanna Himschoot, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock

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Superintendent's Office.
for the Insane
London, Ont.,
25 Jan 1889

Your welcome letter of 23d1 came to hand this forenoon, also a little bundle of papers which I was glad to get. I fear you are having a mighty dull time of it, dear Walt, and I wonder you keep up heart as you do. Letter from our New York patent lawyer today,2 all seems to be going well3 and I hope to be in Phild. before the middle of Feb. Hope so as I want to see you very much and if those friends of yours down there want a lecture on W.W. from me I trust to be prepared to give them a good one "tho I say it as shouldn't." All quiet & well here. Regular spring day today, sun shining bright & warm, we have had no winter yet

R M 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. See Whitman's letter to Bucke of January 23, 1889. [back]

2. For a mention of this letter, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Saturday, January 26, 1889[back]

3. 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]


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