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 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.

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 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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