Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Henry S. Tuke, 24 March 1891

Date: March 24, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: med.00925

Source: The location of this manuscript is unknown. Miller derives his transcription from a transcription published in a catalog of the New York gallery and auction house, American Art Association, December 13, 1938. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 5:180–181. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Andrew David King, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock

Camden, N. J.,
March 24, 1891

Y'rs of 9th rec'd1 with pay—& I now send the big book complete works2 same address as this card—Kindly send me word when it safely reaches you, notifying me.3

Walt Whitman

Henry Scott Tuke (1858–1929) was an English photographer and painter who specialized in male nudes and maritime themes. Among his acquaintances were Oscar Wilde and John Addington Symonds, who also corresponded with Whitman. Tuke moved to Swanpool in 1885 and painted from a fishing boat that he converted into a floating studio. For more on Tuke's artistic work, see C. Kains-Jackson, "H. S. Tuke, A.R.A.," The Magazine of Art 26 (1902): 337–343.


1. Whitman is referring to Tuke's letter of March 9, 1891[back]

2. Whitman's Complete Poems & Prose (1888), a volume Whitman often referred to as the "big book," was published by the poet himself—in an arrangement with publisher David McKay, who allowed Whitman to use the plates for both Leaves of Grass and Specimen Days—in December 1888. With the help of Horace Traubel, Whitman made the presswork and binding decisions for the volume. Frederick Oldach bound the book, which included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary. [back]

3. Tuke, a young Englishman, sent 25 shillings for a copy of Leaves of Grass on March 9, 1891: "I cannot tell you what a blessed thing it was to me when I found your poems, & I could say the same of several other young Englishmen I know." [back]


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