Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Alfred, Lord Tennyson to Walt Whitman, 12 July 1871

Date: July 12, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: med.00410

Source: The location of the original manuscript is unknown. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:125–126. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth M. Price, Ashley Lawson, Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

Aldworth, Blackdown, Haslemere,
Surrey, England,
July 12, 1871.

My dear Sir:1

Mr. Cyril Flower wrote to me some time ago to inform me that he had brought your books with him from America, a gift from you, and that they were lying in my London chambers; Whereupon I wrote back to him, begging him to bring them himself to me at my country house, and I have been accordingly, always expecting to see him, but he never came, being detained by law business in town. I have now just called at my London lodgings, and found them on the table. I had previously met with several of your works and read them with interest and had made up my mind that you had a large and lovable nature. I discovered great "go" in your writings and am not surprised at the hold they have taken on your fellow country men.2

Wishing you all success and prosperity, and with all thanks for your kind gift which I should have acknowledged earlier, had I received it sooner, I remain

Ever yours, very truly,
A Tennyson

I trust that if you visit England, you will grant me the pleasure of receiving and entertaining you under my own roof.


1. This was Tennyson's first letter to Walt Whitman. Whitman wrote to Tennyson in 1871, or late 1870, probably shortly after the visit of Cyril Flower in December, 1870, but the letter is not extant (see Thomas Donaldson, Walt Whitman the Man 1896, 223; for Flower, see Whitman's letter of February 2, 1872). According to Walt Whitman's reply on April 27, 1872, Tennyson wrote a second letter on September 22, 1871, also apparently lost. [back]

2. Sylvester Baxter reported that in April, 1881, Walt Whitman had informed Trowbridge and himself of his discouragement about his "poetic mission" at the time Tennyson's letter arrived. See Rufus A. Coleman, "Trowbridge and Whitman," PMLA, 62 (1948), 268. [back]


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