Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 3 February 1880

Date: February 3, 1880

Whitman Archive ID: man.00003

Source: Charles Sixsmith Collection at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester. 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 created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from The Letters of Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, ed. Artem Lozynsky (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

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Asylum for the Insane,
Feb 3d 1880

My dear Walt

I have Burrough's book and also his last article in "Birds & Poets". I have O'Connor's "Good Gray Poet" parts of which are beautifull—I have Mrs. Gilchrists letter in the "Radical."1 All these and anything else I can get on this subject are interesting, and will be more or less usefull, to me—but what I specially want just now is new facts about the man—both bearing upon his inward and outward life—I hope you will give me any help in [reason?] that you can in this direction.

I hope that your brothers will do something for me and I hope that if you have any thing to say about it you will encourage them to do something2—I will return the little pamphlet3 after awhile meantime I will take good care of it & be sure not to lose it.

Yours always
R M Bucke


1. Although the Whitman letter to which Bucke is responding is apparently lost—Edwin Haviland Miller lists a missing letter from Whitman to Bucke on 26 January 1880 (Walt Whitman: The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 3:434)—it would appear that Whitman had sent Bucke a list of materials for use in the biography. If this is the case, then the following have the special sanction of the poet: John Burroughs, Notes on Walt Whitman as Poet and Person, 1st ed. (New York: American News Company, 1867); "The Flight of the Eagle," Birds and Poets (Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1877), 185–235; William Douglas O'Connor, The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication (New York: Bunce and Huntington, 1866); and Anne Gilchrist, "An Englishwoman's Estimate of Walt Whitman," Boston Radical, 7 (May 1870), 345–59. In the biography, Bucke reprinted The Good Gray Poet (pp. 99–130) and extracts from "An Englishwoman's Estimate" (pp. 204–6). [back]

2. Although Whitman at this time was living with George Washington Whitman at 431 Stevens Street, there was not much sympathy between the brothers. Some notion of the attitude of the family may be gained from the interview with George Washington Whitman that Traubel conducted in 1893 ("Notes from Conversations with George W. Whitman, 1893: Mostly in his Own Words," in In Re Walt Whitman, eds. Horace Traubel, Richard Maurice Bucke, and Thomas B. Harned [Philadelphia: McKay, 1893], 33–40). Discussing the publication of the first edition of Leaves of Grass, George remarked: "I was about twenty-five then. I saw the book—didn't read it all—didn't think it worth reading—fingered it a little. Mother thought as I did—did not know what to make of it" (35). [back]

3. Possibly The Good Gray Poet[back]


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