Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 18 May 1888

Date: May 18, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00714

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), 4:170–171. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ryan Furlong, Ian Faith, and Stephanie Blalock

PM May 18 '881

Rose late this forenoon & very miserable—half a cup of coffee for my breakfast—but found your letter waiting for me—& have been better ever since—somehow does me more good than any2—The illness of last ten days must ab't have a turn for good or bad, & I guess it is going to be the former—


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 postal card is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | 1015 O Street | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Camden (?) | May 1 (?) | 3 PM | 88; Washington, Rec'd | May | 18 | 11 PM | 1888 | 5. It is endorsed: "Answ'd June 13/88." [back]

2. O'Connor's letter of May 16, 1888, confirmed Whitman's verdict that his friend was "a master juggler of words": now exuding confidence, then describing the devil with fanciful vigor, now attacking Ignatius Loyola Donnelly's critics, and then praising Edmund Stedman—all with his old manic intensity (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, March 1, 1889). [back]


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