Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 10 November 1891

Date: November 10, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08218

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 The Letters of Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, ed. Artem Lozynsky (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Contributors to digital file: Zainab Saleh, Stephanie Blalock, and Breanna Himschoot

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Medical Superintendent's
10 Nov

I have yours of last Saturday evening2 and thank you for mentioning the Bacon3 book by J.E. Roe4—I have sent for it—am at present very much interested in this Bacon business. I have sent for the "Three Tales"5 but have not got them yet. We have had some lovely "Indian summer" weather here but today it has poured down rain since before daylight. It is said that "Annexation" feeling is growing with great rapidity in Canada— I should expect it would the way things are going generally in the country—increasing debt, stationary population, best young men leaving as they grow up. As far as I can judge, dear Walt, you are not going back any these last few months

Best love
R M Bucke

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).


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle Street | Camden | New Jersey U. S. A. It is postmarked: London | PM | NO 10 | 91 | Canada; Camden, N. J. | Nov 12 | 1 PM | 91 | Rec'd. [back]

2. See Whitman's letter to Bucke of November 7, 1891. [back]

3. Francis Bacon (1561–1626) was an English philosopher, scientist, statesman, and author. Bacon's personal notebooks and works came under scrutiny during the nineteenth-century because of suspicions that he had written plays under the pen-name William Shakespeare in order to protect his political office from material some might find objectionable. For more on the Baconian theory, see Henry William Smith, Was Lord Bacon The Author of Shakespeare's Plays?: A Letter to Lord Ellesmere (London: William Skeffington, 1856). [back]

4. John Elisha (J. E.) Row's The Mortal Moon; Or, Bacon and His Masks, was published in 1891. [back]

5. Three of O'Connor's stories with a preface by Whitman were published in Three Tales: The Ghost, The Brazen Android, The Carpenter (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1892). The preface was included in Good-Bye My Fancy (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891), 51–53. [back]


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