Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 14 April 1889

Date: April 14, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07297

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.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Caterina Bernardini, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

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Superintendent's Office.
for the Insane
London, Ont.,
14 April 1889

I have been as busy as a nailer all day (if it is Sunday)1—just going out for a drive and write this line to take with me and post. We have had a glorious day—bright and warm—There is nothing to tell you except that we are all well and the asylum and its affairs are quiet and prosperous. I trust you are something easier by this time. I had a long cheery letter from Mrs. Gosling2 (do you recollect her in '80 when you were at the asylum? She is a great friend of yours) from Birmingham, England where she is living now with her husband & little girl.

In haste
Love to you
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. In 1889, April 14th fell on a Sunday, and Bucke is likely referencing a popular expression. [back]

2. The name of Mrs. Gosling is written in Whitman's Commonplace-Book, as are those of several other residents of London, Ontario. This entry is not dated, but follows that for June 19, 1880 and precedes the entry for July 1880 (The Commonplace-Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]


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