Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 18 August [1886]

Date: August 18, [1886]

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00550

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), 4:43. 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, Kyle Barton, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock

Aug: 18 noon

Yours of yesterday,2 with clipping from the N[ation] rec'd—thanks3—(Always so glad to hear or get letters from you, dear friend)—

I am getting along pretty well physically, have stood the summer well so far—digestion matters better—have been writing somewhat busily for me the past three or four weeks—articles, generally ordered ones—Century4—N A Review5—and Lippincott's6—a little bit about Shakspere in last Critic7

Walt Whitman

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 Dec. 11/86. It is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service | Washington D C. It is postmarked: Camden | Aug | 18 | 10 30 AM | N.J.; Washington, Rec'd. | Aug | 18 | (?) PM | 1886 | 2. [back]

2. See O'Connor's letter to Whitman of August 17, 1886[back]

3. In his previous letter, O'Connor sent a clipping from The Nation of August 12 containing "a cheering review" of a book by Hutcheson Macaulay Posnett entitled Comparative Literature (1886), in which Whitman was referred to; see also O'Connor's letter to Whitman of December 10, 1886[back]

4. Whitman is likely referring to his article "Army Hospitals and Cases," which he sent to The Century on August 10, 1886. It was published in the magazine in October 1888. [back]

5. Whitman's "Robert Burns" appeared in The Critic on December 16. He received $15 for the article (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). With additions he republished it as "Robert Burns as Poet and Person" in The North American Review, 143 (1886), 427–435, and in November Boughs (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1888), 57–64. [back]

6. Whitman is referring to his article "My Book and I," which was published in Lippincott's (January 1887), 121–127. [back]

7. Whitman's "A Thought on Shakspere" appeared in The Critic on August 14, 1886. [back]


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