Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Orr Whitman, 27 August [1881]

Date: August 27, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: mhs.00008

Source: Missouri Historical Society. 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 derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented, updated, or created by Whitman Archive staff as appropriate.

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Stefan Schöberlein, and Nicole Gray

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Saturday Evn'g Aug: 27

Dear Sister Lou

All goes satisfactory here—I keep as well as usual—have a very good room & board in a kind of half hotel half boarding house, the hotel Waterston—the landlady Mrs Moffit,1 has a hundred guests when full, mostly families, very nice—capital table, (most too good for me, tempts me too much)—

My book is getting on swimmingly—I have got it (after considerable worrying & doing & undoing) into a shape that suits me first-rate, and this printing office is putting it into typographical shape too that satisfies me well—nearly 100 pages already set up & cast—so you see that's working all right—I am mostly here at the printing office, five or six hours every day, reading proof & seeing to things2—Mr Osgood the publisher & Rand & Avery the printers are very friendly indeed, I couldn't have better ones to deal with. I suppose you get the papers I send—the Boston Globe of four or five days ago3—& others—I get my letters very well here, sent on from Camden—Lou I send a small package directed to you by mail, please put it up on my table—Shall send occasionally same way, to be put up there & kept for me—I go out riding now & then, am to go for a couple of hours this evening—havn't got anything from you since (I believe) Monday last.

—Address me either here (see outside of this envelope)—or care Osgood & Co: 211 Tremont Street—Of course the greatest anxiety about the President4—thought here to-day there is no hope—it is terrible—

Brother Walt


1. Whitman paid $8 a week for his board to Eva E. Moffit. On September 30 Whitman paid Mrs. Moffit $41.44 "for six weeks, up to date" and $21 on October 19 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

2. On August 22 Whitman spent the morning at the printing office: "the superintendent Mr [Henry H.] Clark very kind & thoughtful—appears as though I was going to have things all my own way—I have a table & nook, in part [of] a little room, all to myself, to read proof, write, &c." In an inclusive entry, "Aug 20 to 30," Whitman noted: "the book well under way—I am at the printing office some hours every day." On September 1 Whitman sent Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke "proofs up to page 143" and on September 4 "proofs to p 176" (Whitman's Commonplace Book). See also Clifton Joseph Furness, Walt Whitman's Workshop (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928), 263–265. [back]

3. A lengthy interview with Whitman, entitled "The Good Gray Poet," appeared in the Boston Globe on August 24, in which the poet discussed the architectural structure of Leaves of Grass; averred that "the large magazines are still shy of me," citing a recent rejection by Harper's Monthly ("A Summer's Invocation"; see the letter from Whitman to Harry Stafford of January 2, 1881); praised Emerson as the most important American poet and termed Tennyson "in every respect the poet of our times." [back]

4. President Garfield lingered in a critical condition until September 19. [back]


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