Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James W. Wallace, 25 September 1891

Date: September 25, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08326

Source: Henry S. Saunders Collection of Walt Whitman Papers, 1899–1913, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 5:247. 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, Stephanie Blalock, and Breanna Himschoot

Sept: 25 '91

Y'r good letters all rec'd2 & welcomed—I am getting along easier than yesterday—am satisfied with my finale ed'n3—(nothing new but putting things in their right & consecutive positions)—Warry4 is over to Phila. to see a friend sailor5 off for California—Good luck to you in y'r Canadian & hitherward jaunts6

Walt Whitman

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).


1. This letter is addressed: J W Wallace | Care Dr. Bucke | Asylum | London | Ontario Canada. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Sep 25 | 8 PM | 91. [back]

2. Wallace had written to Whitman from London, Ontario, Canada, on September 21, September 22, September 23, and September 24. [back]

3. Whitman is referring to the 1891–1892 "deathbed" edition of Leaves of Grass. See R.W. French, "Leaves of Grass, 1891–1892, Deathbed Edition," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. Frank Warren Fritzinger (1867–1899), known as "Warry," took Edward Wilkins's place as Whitman's nurse, beginning in October 1889. Fritzinger and his brother Harry were the sons of Henry Whireman Fritzinger (about 1828–1881), a former sea captain who went blind, and Almira E. Fritzinger. Following Henry Sr.'s death, Warren and his brother—having lost both parents—became wards of Mary O. Davis, Whitman's housekeeper, who had also taken care of the sea captain and who inherited part of his estate. [back]

5. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]

6. In September 1891, Wallace traveled to the United States, arriving at Philadelphia on September 8, 1891 (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, September 8, 1891). Wallace's arrival was shortly preceded by that of the Canadian physician Richard Maurice Bucke, who had recently returned from two months of travel in Europe, where he had spent time with Johnston, Wallace, and the Bolton College group of English Whitman admirers. Both Bucke and Wallace visited Whitman in Camden, and, after spending a few days with the poet, Wallace returned with Bucke to London, Ontario, Canada, where he met Bucke's family and friends. Wallace's account of his time with Whitman was published—along with the Bolton physician John Johnston's account of his own visit with the poet in the summer of 1890—in their memoir, Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890–1891 by Two Lancashire Friends (London: Allen and Unwin, 1917). [back]


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