Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 24 July 1891

Date: July 24, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07967

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 derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Editorial note: The annotation, "July 24," is in the hand of Richard Maurice Bucke.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Stephanie Blalock, Alex Ashland, and Jason McCormick

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Camden N J—U S America1
July 24 '91—

A shade of relief f'm the hot spell—now 10th day—& is telling on me—Things much the same—Lip2 for Aug: out—the birth-day rep't3 reads well—I don't get out doors at all—Phillips Brooks4 here yesterday—Am sitting here—

Walt Whitman

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: Dr Bucke | care Mr Costelloe | 40 Grosvenor road | the Embankment | London England. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Jul 24 | 6 PM | 91; Philadelphia, PA. | Jul 24 | 8 PM | Paid. [back]

2. Lippincott's Monthly Magazine was a literary magazine published in Philadelphia from 1868 to 1915. Joseph Marshall Stoddart was the editor of the magazine from 1886 to 1894, and he frequently published material by and about Whitman. For more information on Whitman's numerous publications here, see Susan Belasco, "Lippincott's Magazine." [back]

3. Horace Traubel's "Walt Whitman's Birthday, May 31, 1891," an account of Whitman's 72nd (and last) birthday, was published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in August 1891. The account was later published as "Round Table with Walt Whitman" in Traubel, Richard Maurice Bucke, and Thomas B. Harned, ed., In Re Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1893), 297–328. [back]

4. Phillips Brooks (1835–1893) was an Episcopal clergyman who served as the rector of Boston's Trinity Church and, for a short time, as the Bishop of Massachusetts. Brooks also wrote the lyrics for "O Little Town of Bethlehem." [back]


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