Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James W. Wallace, 11 September 1890

Date: September 11, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07946

Source: 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), 5:83. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ian Faith, Ryan Furlong, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden New Jersey U S America1
Evn'g
Sept: 11 '90

Rec'd a telegram badly mangled (probably here) fr'm wh' I infer that you want a second copy of pocket:b'k b'd L of G2—& I now send it by same mail with this3—Nothing very new or different in my condition or affairs—am well as usual—have rec'd y'r letters4—thank you, & best salutations to you & the friends all—& especially to Dr. J[ohnston]5—I am lazily working at 2d annex6—the hot season seems over—wet & cool to day—


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Along with John Johnston (d. 1918), a physician from Bolton, he 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).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: J W Wallace | Anderton near Chorley | Lancashire | England. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Sep 11 | 6 PM | 90. [back]

2. The poet had the special pocket-book edition printed in honor of his 70th birthday, May 31, 1889, through special arrangement with Frederick Oldach. Only 300 copies were printed, and Whitman signed the title page of each one. The volume also included the annex Sands at Seventy and his essay A Backward Glance O'er Traveled Roads. See Whitman's May 16, 1889, letter to Oldach. For more information on the book see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary[back]

3. On September 11–12, 1890 Wallace explained that he had requested by telegram a copy of the pocket-book edition which was to be a birthday present for a member of the County Borough of Bolton (England) Public Libraries circle, the Rev. F. R. C. Hutton, for which he was enclosing 22 shillings. He also reported that the Society was meeting on the following day "to hear Dr. J[ohnston]'s account of his visit to you." Johnston himself commented on this meeting on September 13, 1890: "Nearly all 'the boys' were present with two friends & the reading of my notes &c which took place in a green field beneath a tree, occupied nearly two hours & was much enjoyed by every one & by none more than myself for I seemed to be living over again the happy time I spent with you." [back]

4. See Wallace's letter to Whitman of September 9, 1890. [back]

5. Dr. John Johnston (d. 1918) was a physician from Bolton, England, who, with James W. Wallace, 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 Johnston, see Larry D. Griffin, "Johnston, Dr. John (d.1918)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

6. Whitman's book Good-Bye My Fancy (1891) was his last miscellany, and it included both poetry and short prose works commenting on poetry, aging, and death, among other topics. Thirty-one poems from the book were later printed as "Good-Bye my Fancy 2d Annex" to Leaves of Grass (1891–1892), the last edition of Leaves of Grass published before Whitman's death in March 1892. For more information see, Donald Barlow Stauffer, "'Good-Bye my Fancy' (Second Annex) (1891)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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