Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 15 January 1891

Date: January 15, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08082

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.

Contributors to digital file: Zainab Saleh, Stephanie Blalock, and Andrew David King



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Camden Evn'g:1
Jan: 15 '91

Feeling fairly after two very bad days & nights—ate my supper with relish—many visitors to-day—Herb: Gil2: Stoddart3 & five others—Arthur Stedman4 &c: &c:—Horace T5 just here—the March No. of Lip:6 will indeed be Whitmanesque—am sitting here writing by a little tallow candle—clear but a storm preparing


WW


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: NY | 1-16-91 | 10 AM | 7; CAMDEN, N.J. | JAN 16 | 6 AM | 91. [back]

2. Herbert Gilchrist (1857–1914) was a painter and the son of Anne Gilchrist. For more on him, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)". Gilchrist often visited the Staffords when in New York. [back]

3. Joseph Marshall Stoddart (1845–1921) published Stoddart's Encyclopaedia America, established Stoddart's Review in 1880, which was merged with The American in 1882, and became the editor of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1886. On January 11, 1882, Whitman received an invitation from Stoddart through J. E. Wainer, one of his associates, to dine with Oscar Wilde on January 14 (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 235n). [back]

4. Arthur Stedman (1859–1908) was the son of the prominent critic, editor, and poet Edmund Clarence Stedman. Arthur was an editor at Mark Twain's publishing house, Charles L. Webster, where he edited a selection of Whitman's poems and a selection of his autobiographical writings for the "Fiction, Fact, and Fancy Series" (1892). [back]

5. Horace Traubel founded The Conservator in March 1890, and he remained its editor and publisher until his death in 1919. Traubel conceived of The Conservator as a liberal periodical influenced by Whitman's poetic and political ethos. A fair portion of its contents were devoted to Whitman appreciation and the conservation of the poet's literary and personal reputation. [back]

6. In March 1891, Lippincott's Magazine published "Old Age Echoes," a cycle of four poems including "Sounds of the Winter," "The Unexpress'd," "Sail Out for Good, Eidólon Yacht," and "After the Argument," accompanied by an extensive autobiographical note called "Some Personal and Old-Age Memoranda." Also appearing in that issue was a piece on Whitman by Horace Traubel. [back]


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