Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Sloane Kennedy and Richard Maurice Bucke, 11 July 1887

Date: July 11, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: med.00805

Source: The location of this manuscript is unknown. Miller's transcription is derived from William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (London: Alexander Gardner, 1896), 55. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:107. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

July 11, '871

I went off yesterday on a ten-mile drive to Glendale, to my friends the Staffords' house,2 where I staid five hours & back in the drape of the day—a ride & all which I enjoyed greatly. . . . Two wealthy English girls, Bessie & Isabella Ford,3 have just sent me £20.4

William Sloane Kennedy and Richard Maurice Bucke were two of Whitman's closest friends and admirers. Kennedy (1850–1929) first met Whitman while on the staff of the Philadelphia American in 1880. He became a fierce defender of Whitman and would go on to write a book-length study of the poet. For more about Kennedy, see Katherine Reagan, "Kennedy, William Sloane (1850–1929)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). Bucke (1837–1902), a Canadian physician, was Whitman's first biographer, and would later become 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 letter is endorsed by Kennedy: "Quotation Fr. Joint letter to Bucke & WSK." [back]

2. Susan (1833–1910) and George Stafford (1827–1892) were the parents of Whitman's young friend, Harry Stafford. Whitman often visited the family at their farm at Timber Creek in Laurel Springs (near Glendale), New Jersey, and was sometimes accompanied by Herbert Gilchrist; in the 1880s, the Staffords sold the farm and moved to nearby Glendale. For more, see David G. Miller, "Stafford, George and Susan M.," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Isabella Ford (1855–1924) was an English feminist, socialist, and writer. Elizabeth (Bessie) Ford was her sister. Both were introduced to Whitman's writings by Edward Carpenter and they quickly became admirers of Whitman. [back]

4. The latest gift from the Ford sisters was enclosed in a (lost) letter from Edward Carpenter which Whitman received on July 11 (Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). William Sloane Kennedy noted on his transcription that Whitman wrote "on back of O'Connor's last letter fr California, as he was setting out to return to Washington." [back]


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