Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Hallam Tennyson to Walt Whitman, 22 June 1889

Date: June 22, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: med.00948

Source: The location of the original manuscript is unknown. The transcription presented here is derived from Camden's Compliments to Walt Whitman, May 31, 1889: Notes, Addresses, Letters, Telegrams, ed. Horace Traubel (Philadelphia: David McKay, University of Pennsylvania Press), 49. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stephanie Blalock, Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, and Paige Wilkinson




Farringford, Freshwater, Isle of Wight,1
June 22, 1889.

My father2 has been yachting in the Sunbeam. He thanks you for your letter:3 he is not up to writing.

Your banquet and speech4 seem to have been a great success. All congratulations.


Correspondent:
Hallam Tennyson (1852–1928) was the eldest son of the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Hallam was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He served as the personal secretary and biographer of his father, and he was made the Governor of South Australia in 1899. Four years later, he began serving as the second Governor-General of Australia, a position he held until 1904. He spent the last years of his life in Farringford, serving as the deputy Governor of the Isle of Wight from 1913.

Notes:

1. Tennyson sent this letter to Whitman through Herbert H. Gilchrist on behalf of his father, Alfred Lord Tennyson. [back]

2. Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892) succeeded William Wordsworth as poet laureate of Great Britain in 1850. The intense male friendship described in In Memoriam, which Tennyson wrote after the death of his friend Arthur Henry Hallam, possibly influenced Whitman's poetry. Tennyson began a correspondence with Whitman on July 12, 1871. Although Tennyson extended an invitation for Whitman to visit England, Whitman never acted on the offer. [back]

3. It is uncertain which letter is being referred to here. [back]

4. For Whitman's seventieth birthday, Horace Traubel and a large committee planned a local celebration for the poet in Morgan's Hall in Camden, New Jersey. The committee included Henry (Harry) L. Bonsall, Geoffrey Buckwalter, and Thomas B. Harned. See Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, May 7, 1889. The day was celebrated with a testimonial dinner. Numerous authors and friends of the poet prepared and delivered addresses to mark the occasion. Whitman, who did not feel well at the time, arrived after the dinner to listen to the remarks and give a speech. The notes and addresses, as well as Whitman's speech, were collected and edited by Horace Traubel. The volume was titled Camden's Compliment to Walt Whitman, and it included a photo of Sidney Morse's 1887 clay bust of Whitman as the frontispiece. The book was published in 1889 by Philadelphia publisher David McKay. [back]


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