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

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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