Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John Addington Symonds, 30 March 1891

Date: March 30, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08020

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

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Andrew David King, Brandon James O'Neil, Jason McCormick, and Stephanie Blalock

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Camden New Jersey—U S America1
March 30 evn'g '91

Nothing special to write ab't—but tho't I w'd forward you a line—Still keep the fort (sort o') & have had a glum winter—but signs of spring opening—have the good photo you sent me on my wall here, & y'r last Essays handy2—so you see you are not forgotten—am reading printer's proofs of very little 2d annex concluding L of G.3—shall send you soon as printed—

God bless you—
Walt Whitman

John Addington Symonds (1840–1893), a prominent biographer, literary critic, and poet in Victorian England, was author of the seven-volume history Renaissance in Italy, as well as Walt Whitman—A Study (1893), and a translator of Michelangelo's sonnets. But in the smaller circles of the emerging upper-class English homosexual community, he was also well known as a writer of homoerotic poetry and a pioneer in the study of homosexuality, or sexual inversion as it was then known. See Andrew C. Higgins, "Symonds, John Addington [1840–1893]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: J Addington Symonds | Davos Platz | Switzerland. It is postmarked: Camden | Mar 31 | 6 AM | 91; Davos— | 11 IV 91–6 | Platz. [back]

2. Whitman is referring to John Addington Symonds's Essays Speculative and Suggestive (London: Chapman and Hall, 1890). The chapter on "Democratic Art" is mainly inspired by Whitman. [back]

3. Whitman is referring to the group of thirty-one poems taken from the book Good-Bye My Fancy (1891) that were reprinted as the second annex to Leaves of Grass (1891–1892), the last edition of Leaves published in Whitman's lifetime. For more information on Good-Bye My Fancy, as a book and an annex, 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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