Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 20 March 1883

Date: March 20, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: med.00703

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.

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: Stefan Schöberlein, Natalie O'Neal, and Nicole Gray

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Asylum for Insane,1
March 20, 83

Have the "Plate Proofs" to page 18 have gone over them, they are all right. I suppose you do not want these proofs back? So I keep them. Hope you will not fail to rearrange pages, pictures, &c as per last proofs returned & letter.2 You said in letter of 14th3 that 1st batch of proof of pt ii would be sent on 15th I have seen nothing of it so far, hope there is no hitch4

R M B.

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).


1. This postal card is addressed: Walt Whitman | 431 Stevens Street | Camden | New Jersey | U.S.A. It is postmarked: CAMDEN, N.J. | MAR | 22 | 2 PM | RECD.; LONDON | PM | MR 20 | 83 | CANADA. [back]

2. See the letter from Bucke to Whitman of March 18, 1883[back]

3. Whitman's letter to Bucke of March 14, 1883, is listed among the lost letters (The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 3:438). On March 14, 1883, Whitman wrote to William D. O'Connor: "Dr B[ucke]'s book is half in type." [back]

4. Whitman made the following entry in his Commonplace Book: "March 15 to 31—printing, proof reading &c. Dr. B's book proofs to Dr B at London, Canada, & to Wm O'Connor at Providence RI Dr Bucke's Book" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]


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