Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James W. Wallace, 23 December 1890

Date: December 23, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07873

Source: Henry S. Saunders Collection of Walt Whitman Papers, 1899–1913, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 5:135–136. 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, Ian Faith, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

Camden New Jersey U S America1
Evn'g: Dec: 23 '90

Y'r letter welcomed2—Feel pretty fair (considering)—was out in wheel chair3 yesterday, but cold—sit here today in big chair with old wolf-skin spread on back—some visitors—write & read (or rather go thro' the motions)—once in a while something or somebody that cheers me—(what an art that is!)—Often think of you all there—

Walt Whitman

James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Wallace, along with Dr. John Johnston (1852–1927), a physician in Bolton, founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Wallace, see Larry D. Griffin, "Wallace, James William (1853–1926)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This postal card is addressed: J W Wallace | Anderton near Chorley | Lancashire England. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Dec 24 | (?)2 M | 90; Philadelphia, Pa. | Dec 24 | 3 PM | Paid. [back]

2. Whitman is probably referring to Wallace's letter of December 12, 1890 (typescript: County Borough of Bolton [England] Public Libraries). [back]

3. Horace Traubel and Ed Wilkins, Whitman's nurse, went to Philadelphia to purchase a wheeled chair for the poet that would allow him to be "pull'd or push'd" outdoors. See Whitman's letter to William Sloane Kennedy of May 8, 1889[back]


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