Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Ernest Rhys, 25 May 1887

Date: May 25, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00585

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), 6:41. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

May 25 '87—
328 Mickle Street
Camden New Jersey U S America1

I am ab't as usual in health—minus perhaps a little, as the heat of the weather here is great & a little premature—But I am getting along well—tho' the letter some four weeks ago ab't me & "millionaires" in the "P[all] M[all] Gaz:"2 (or was it "Athenaeum") was mostly lollipop streak'd with falsehood—but I have several beloved & staunch friends here in America, men & women—I wish you to give my love to Addington Symonds3—no slips of Preface or additional note yet—no H Gilchrist yet—

Walt Whitman

Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Ernest Rhys | Care Walter Scott Co: | Publishers | 24 Warwick Lane-Paternoster | Row | London England. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | May 25 | 6 PM | 87; London E (?) | A | Ju 6 87 | AG. [back]

2. On May 6, 1887, William T. Stead, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, printed an excerpt from a private correspondent (probably Moncure D. Conway) alleging that Americans were not as generous as they should be in their gifts to Walt Whitman. Herbert Gilchrist, the son of Anne Gilchrist and an artist of sorts, arrived in New York on May 27, and appeared in Camden on June 3. For the next several months Gilchrist worked on the portrait now in the Rare Book Department of the University of Pennsylvania. It is reproduced in Harold W. Blodget and Sculley Bradley, eds., Comprehensive Reader's Edition (New York: New York University Press, 1965) and in Edwin Haviland Miller, The Artistic Legacy of Walt Whitman (New York: New York University Press, 1970), figure 25. For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. John Addington Symonds (1840–1893), a prominent biographer, literary critic, and poet in Victorian England, was author of the seven-volume history Renaissance in Italy, as well as Walt Whitman—A Study (1893), and a translator of Michelangelo's sonnets. But in the smaller circles of the emerging upper-class English homosexual community, he was also well known as a writer of homoerotic poetry and a pioneer in the study of homosexuality, or sexual inversion as it was then known. See Andrew C. Higgins, "Symonds, John Addington [1840–1893]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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