Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Raymond Blathwayt to Walt Whitman, 17 April 1891

Date: April 17, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08270

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: Andrew Keswick, Layla Hughes, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock



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Address to


Century Club
7 West Forty-Third St.
April. 17. 91

Sir,

I have come over to America to do a series of articles for the Pall Mall Gazette.1 May I come & have a conversation with yourself2 for publication in that paper, which is read by most of your English admirers?

I regret I have no letter of introduction to you personally, as I do not know any of your friends, but I have letters to Cardinal Gibbons,3 Mr O.W. Holmes,4 W. D. Howells5 & many more. My work is well known in England & I possess the highest possible testimonials regarding it from Cardinal Manning,6 Mr J. A. Froude,7 Hall Caine,8 Grant Allen9 Mr Justin McCarthy10 & many more.

Awaiting your reply & with great respect

I am
Faithfully Yours
Raymond Blathwayt

I might add that Lord Tennyson11 lives in the parish in the I. of Wight of which my father is the Rector12 & that they were both old schoolfellows.


Correspondent:
Raymond Blathwayt (1855–1936) was born in London and began his career as a clergyman while also gaining experience in literary work and engaging in philanthropic efforts among the urban poor. He went on to become a journalist and an actor on the silent screen. He often wrote celebrity interviews, many of which were collected in Interviews (1893), including his talks with authors Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894), and Mark Twain (1835–1910). Later, he had parts in such films as The Great Moment (1921) and Beyond the Rocks (1922).

Notes:

1. The Pall Mall Gazette was a daily evening newspaper in London that was founded by British publisher George Murray Smith (1824–1901) in 1865. Frederick Greenwood (1830–1909), an English journalist, was the paper's first editor. One of the paper's most well-known editors and innovator in investigative journalism was William T. Stead (1849–1912), who edited the paper until 1889. In the early 1890s, the paper was edited by the journalist and biographer Sir Edward Tyas Cook (1857–1919). The paper published works by and about Whitman during its run. The Pall Mall Gazette was merged into The Evening Standard in 1923. [back]

2. Blathwayt would send a second letter reiterating this request for an interview with Whitman three weeks later. See Blathwayt's letter to Whitman of May 6, 1891[back]

3. James Cardinal Gibbons (1834–1921) was born in Baltimore, but his family moved to Ireland, when he was a young child, and he lived there for ten years. He entered a seminary in Baltimore in 1855 and rose rapidly in the Roman Catholic Church. He became the youngest bishop in the United States in 1868, and Pope Leo XIII made him a Cardinal in 1886. Cardinal Gibbons was known as a labor advocate, and he authored several books on religion, including The Faith of Our Fathers (1876). [back]

4. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–1894) was a Bostonian author, physician, and lecturer. One of the Fireside Poets, he was a good friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson as well as John Burroughs. Holmes remained ambivalent about Whitman's poetry. He married Amelia Lee Jackson in 1840 and they had three children, including the later Supreme Court judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. For more information, see Julie A. Rechel-White, "Holmes, Oliver Wendell (1809–1894)," (Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, eds. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings [New York: Garland Publishing, 1998], 280). [back]

5. William Dean Howells (1837–1920) was the novelist and "Dean of American Letters" who wrote The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) among other works. He described his first meeting with Walt Whitman at Pfaff's in Literary Friends and Acquaintances (New York: Harper & Bros., 1900), 73–76. [back]

6. Henry Edward Manning (1808–1892), born in Hertfordshire, England, was educated at Harrow and Oxford. He was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England, but later converted to Catholicism. After studying at the academia in Rome, he was ordained as a Catholic Priest. In 1865 he was appointed Archibishop of Westminster, and in 1875, he was made a Cardinal-Priest of San Gregorio in Rome. He published the influential book The Eternal Priesthood in 1883. [back]

7. James Anthony Froude (1818–1894) was an English historian, biographer, and editor of Fraser's Magazine. Froude was also a close friend and literary executor to Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), after whose death Froude published a biography entitled Life of Carlyle, which described Carlyle's intellectual accomplishments as well as his personal failings, in particular his unhappy relationship with his wife, Jane Welsh. Froude had previously published Jane's writings in Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle in 1883 to much protest from Carlyle's surviving family, and his biography of Carlyle emphasized his conflicted marriage for contemporary readers. For more on Froude, see Ciarán Brady, James Anthony Froude: An Intellectual Biography of a Victorian Prophet (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). [back]

8. A native of Cheshire, England, Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine (1853–1931) was a prolific novelist, a poet, and a critic. His novels covered such topics as adultry, domestic violence, and women's rights and were very popular in his time. Many of them were later adapted into silent films. He was also a very successful dramatist; he wrote numerous plays that became West End and Broadway productions. [back]

9. Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen (1848–1899), born in Canada and educated in England, was a science writer and a novelist. A proponent of evolution, Allen wrote books dealing with scientific topics, including Physiological Aesthetics (1877) and Flowers and Their Pedigrees (1886), and many of his articles presented Darwinian arguments. He also wrote thirty novels, including a pioneering work in science fiction, The British Barbarians (1895). [back]

10. Justin Huntly McCarthy (1859–1936) was an Irish novelist and politician. He served as a member of Parliament from 1884 to 1892. [back]

11. Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) succeeded William Wordsworth as poet laureate of Great Britain in 1850. The intense male friendship described in In Memoriam, which Tennyson wrote after the death of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, possibly influenced Whitman's poetry. Tennyson began a correspondence with Whitman on July 12, 1871. Although Tennyson extended an invitation for Whitman to visit England, Whitman never acted on the offer. [back]

12. Reverend Raymond Blathwayt (1818–1910) served as the chaplin at several convict prisons before becoming a vicar at Christ Church in Totlands Bay, Isle of Wight in the 1870s. Rev. Blathwayt started a series of prison lectures, inviting speackers to lecture on various subjects to the prisoners in an effort at prison reform ("Pioneer of Prison Reform," The Ashbourne Telegraph, March 4, 1910, 10). Reverend Blathwayt was married to Christina Hogarth Blathwayt (1823–1905), and the couple were the parents of several children. [back]


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