Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 11 June 1885

Date: June 11, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00542

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), 3:394–395. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein and Kyle Barton

Answ'd July 27/85.1

328 Mickle Street
Camden New Jersey
June 11 '85—noon2

The picture arrived this morning—it is a splendid piece of work & I feel sure a good likeness—At any rate it is that rare bird a perfect photo—& I am mighty glad to get it—it leans against the wall before me this moment with the Bacon—(I am ashamed to say never before acknowledged—but it is in my little sitting room & before my eyes every day—more than half the time is taken for Shakspere)3

I am about as well as usual in general health—full as well—but laid by with lameness—added to by a fall two months ago & turning my ankle in. I hear from Dr Bucke and John Burroughs—both well—Doctor busy as a bee—both vehement in hospitable invitations to me which I should be most glad to accept—but I find it best not to stray too far from my own chair & bed4—Mrs Gilchrist has a strong article abt L. of G. &c printed in the "To-day," cheap radical English magazine for June—I shall probably have some soon & will send you one—It is equal to the 1872 piece5

How are you? Any prospect of decapitation?6 How is Nelly? Give my best love & remembrances to her? I am comfortable here in my shanty. I suppose you get the papers & pieces I send—So long, dear friend—

W. W.

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 note is in O'Connor's hand. He replied on July 25. [back]

2. This letter is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Philadelphia | Pa. | Jun 11 85 | 7 30 PM; Washington, Rec'd. | Jun | 12 | 7 AM 1885 | 2. [back]

3. O'Connor sent "the picture of Lord Bacon by Vandyke" on March 7[back]

4. On April 5 Richard Maurice Bucke insisted that Whitman spend the summer in Canada. [back]

5. Whitman slipped: Anne Gilchrist's "An Englishwoman's Estimate of Walt Whitman" appeared in 1870 in The Radical (see the letter from Whitman to O'Connor of May 11, 1870). [back]

6. O'Connor referred to the possibility of losing his governmental post in the Cleveland administration on February 1 and on July 25. [back]


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