Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 2 June 1883

Date: June 2, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: med.00710

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 the Insane,
2d June 1883

Dear Walt

I have yours of 31st ult.1 Have written Forman as you suggest and have also written McKay (send you enclosed a copy of the letter that you may see plainly on what footing you are with him). If the book is published in London before it is pubd in America I believe the copyright will be as safe as the bank of England. Archie Bremner2 is still here on the staff of "Advertiser"—The notice in the "Press"3 was very gratifying, hope you will send me any you can particularly the adverse ones—You do not say anything about sending copies as I asked you in my last, I take it for granted meantime that you will attend to this—and also that you will have balance of my ten copies sent me here soon as convenient—The weather here now is perfect and the grounds look better than I have ever seen them We are all well and send you love

R M Bucke

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. Whitman's letter to Bucke of May 31, 1883, is listed among the lost letters (The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 3:438). [back]

2. Archie Bremner is mentioned in an entry made in Whitman's Commonplace Book in June 1880 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). He may have conducted the interview with Whitman which appeared in the London, Ontario Advertiser (5 June 1880). [back]

3. A review of Walt Whitman appeared in the Philadelphia Press on May 27, 1883. [back]


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