Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Elizabeth A. Cottell to Walt Whitman, 10 June 1889

Date: June 10, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08101

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "see notes July 14 1889," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

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

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Carlyle House
Cheyne Row

Dear Walt Whitman;

I cannot write as a stranger. I must have known you all my life you are wonderful, how did you learn the sacred truth of Leaves of Grass for which I more than thank you, all women true women must.—Every thing is so beautiful.–How can I thank you? You are misunderstood and thanked by yourself.—

Wherever you exist and that is everywhere, Heaven bless and keep you in its own sweet care.—

Send a line that I may have something traced by your strong hand. You start a fresh epoch and yet one grown from the very beginnings of things. There is nothing written like your lovely Leaves. It stands alone in its valor and truth.—

May every care be softened for your sweet heart and hands

Your true and grateful friend
E.A. Cottell

Elizabeth Ann Caulfeild Cottell (1826–1894) was the daughter of Rev. Edward Warren Caulfeild and Anne Pybus. In 1851, she married Maj. James William Cottell, whose service in the East India Company took the couple to India where they had four children, Arthur Bowditch, Reginald James Cope, Alfred Prybus, and Edward Caulfeild. After James Cottell's death in 1860, Elizabeth and her sons returned to England. Sometime around 1885, she moved into the former Chelsea home of writers Thomas and Jane Carlyle, and soon had a reputation for keeping a large number of cats and dogs. In 1892, Cottell was summoned to the Westminster Police Court for the hoard and in 1893 was sued by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (see "Mrs. Cottell's Eccentricities—Conviction for Cruelty" in the London Daily News (June 17, 1893), 3). After her death in 1894, the home was purchased by the Carlyle's House Memorial Trust and fully restored. For more information on Cottrell, see Debrett's Illustrated Peerage, Robert H. Mair ed. (London:Dean and Son, 1884), 141.


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esqr | Campden | New Jersey. | U. S. A. "Campden" has been corrected to "Camden NJ" in another hand. This letter is postmarked: LONDON | 167 | JU 10 | 89 | S.W.; DEFICIENCY | IN | ADDRESS | SUPPLIED | BY | N.Y.P.O. [illegible]DN; POMPTON | 20 | N. J.; [illegible]; NEW YORK | JUN | 22; B; PAID | ALL; POM [illegible]; CAMDEN | [illegible] | 26 | 6 AM | 1889 | REC'D.; N [illegible]K | JUN 25 | 3 AM | 89; 8. [back]


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