Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 3 April 1891

Date: April 3, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08022

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, Jason McCormick, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock



page image
image 1
page image
image 2


Camden1
4 PM
Apr: 3 '91

Getting along—Dr L2 here to-day—partial bowel impulse—Mr O'Donovan,3 N Y. sculptor of repute, has been here to arrange f'r sculping me—I told him I w'd submit—we'll see what comes of it—quite a train of visitors talkers4 &c: and I am tired & deaf—am sitting here alone & glum as usual—

Best luck to you
Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. This postal card is addressed: Dr Bucke | Asylum | London | Ontario Canada. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Apr 3 | 8 PM | 91; London | AM | Ap 6 | 91 | Canada. [back]

2. Daniel Longaker (1858–1949) was a Philadelphia physician who specialized in obstetrics. He became Whitman's doctor in early 1891 and provided treatment during the poet's final illness. For more information, see Carol J. Singley, "Longaker, Dr. Daniel [1858–1949]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R.LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. William Rudolph O'Donovan (1844–1920) was an American sculptor. He was an associate of American artist Thomas Eakins and accompanied Eakins to Whitman's Camden home and fashioned a large bust of Whitman. Whitman liked O'Donovan but did not care for the bust, which he found "too hunched" and the head "too broad" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, July 15, 1891). [back]

4. Whitman's visitors for the day included Dr. Longaker, the Philadelphia publisher David McKay, and William R. O'Donovan, the sculptor (1844–1920), who came with a letter of introduction from George W. Childs of the Philadelphia Public Ledger (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.