Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 3 February 1886

Date: February 3, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00420

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:19. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Grace Thomas, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Elizabeth Lorang, and Kyle Barton

Elkton Maryland1
Feb. 3 '86

I came down here yesterday to deliver a lecture, which came off all right last evening—Return to-day. Tho't you would like to know I move around yet2


William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication, published in 1866. For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is endorsed: "Answ'd March 23/86." It is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service | Washington | D C. [back]

2. Whitman delivered his "Death of Abraham Lincoln" lecture at a banquet of the "Pythian Club" on February 2, for which he received $30 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). Folger McKinsey (1866–1950) was responsible for the invitation. McKinsey, then a railroad clerk in Philadelphia, began to call on Whitman in 1884, as indicated by his letter of June 10 and the reference to his occasional visits in Whitman's Commonplace Book on June 17. In 1885 McKinsey became the editor of the Elkton (Md.) Cecil Democrat, in which he printed an interview with the poet on December 12. On March 12, 1886, the newspaper termed Whitman's lecture "a failure." See Rollo G. Silver, N & Q, 170 (1936), 190–191, and Ernest J. Moyne, "Walt Whitman and Folger McKinsey," Delaware Notes, 29 (1956), 103–117. Later McKinsey became the editor of the Baltimore Sun[back]


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