Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 24 September 1891

Date: September 24, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08296

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: Ryan Furlong, Brandon James O'Neil, Jason McCormick, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock



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Camden1
Sept: 24 '91

Thanks to you & J W W2 for letters3—Hot days & nights here—now the fourth in series—bad condition yesterday and last night & to day—quite bad—my trouble of late follows solar influences—bad as long as the sun is up—head & bladder worst—middling hearty breakfast to day, but little supper—


W W


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 | Sep 24 | 8 PM | 91; London | PM | SP 26 | 91 | Canada. [back]

2. James William Wallace (1853–1926), of Bolton, England, was an architect and great admirer of Whitman. Along with John Johnston (1852–1927), a physician from Bolton, he founded the "Bolton College" of English admirers of the poet. Johnston and Wallace corresponded with Whitman and with Horace Traubel and other members of the Whitman circle in the United States, and they separately visited the poet and published memoirs of their trips in John Johnston and James William Wallace, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). For more information on Wallace, see Larry D. Griffin, "Wallace, James William (1853–1926)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Bucke wrote to Whitman on September 20, 1891. Wallace wrote to Whitman on September 20, September 21, and September 22, 1891. At this time, Wallace was visiting Bucke at Bucke's home in London, Ontario, Canada. [back]


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