Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John Phillips Street, 14 July 1891

Date: July 14, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07989

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 5:226. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Andrew David King, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

What1 you may need too perhaps is Dr Bucke's2 "Walt Whitman" book, (life &c:) pub'd by D. McKay,3 Philad: 9th st: opp: p. o. ($2)4

John Phillips Street (1869–1938) earned a B.S. at Rutgers College in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1889 and worked at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station; he wrote on agricultural science.


1. This letter is addressed: John Phillips Street | New Brunswick | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Camden [illegible] | Jul 14 | 4 30 PM | 91; New Brunswick, N.J. | Jul | 16 | AM | 1891 | Rec'd. [back]

2. 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). [back]

3. David McKay (1860–1918) took over Philadelphia-based publisher Rees Welsh's bookselling and publishing businesses in 1881–2. McKay and Rees Welsh published the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass after opposition from the Boston District Attorney prompted James R. Osgood & Company of Boston, the publisher Whitman had originally contracted with for publication of the volume, to withdraw. McKay also went on to publish Specimen Days & Collect, November Boughs, Gems from Walt Whitman, and Complete Prose Works. For more information about McKay, see Joel Myerson, "McKay, David (1860–1918)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. This note was written on an advertisement of Whitman's books. Street made the inquiry on July 13, and replied on July 16 that he was unable to purchase the volume. [back]


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