Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Alma Calder and John H. Johnston, 6 January 1890

Date: January 6, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: owu.00027

Source: The Bayley-Whitman Collection, Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, OH. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. 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

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Jan: 6 P M 1890

Dear Alma Johnston & John & all the girls & children big & little

A word at any rate to show I think of you (as I often do & deeply)—Am here yet in much the same condition as the last year—good spirits (sort o') but physically disabled almost utterly—Fine sunny days I get out in my wheel chair1 for an hour or two—generally however am anchored here in my big ratan chair with the wolf-skin spread over the back—have two daily good curryings (massages) & appetite & sleep continuing fairly—

Alma, I suppose you rec'd the little ed'n of L of G. I sent—

Love to you all—
Walt Whitman

here is a little scrap I just cut out for John—

John H. (J.H.) Johnston (1837–1919) was a New York jeweler who became a close friend of Whitman's. Whitman visited Johnston's home frequently, and Johnston assisted with raising funds for the aging poet. Alma Calder Johnston was an author and John's second wife. Her family owned a home and property in Equinunk, Pennsylvania. For more on the Johnstons, see Susan L. Roberson, "Johnston, John H. (1837–1919) and Alma Calder" (Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. Horace Traubel and Ed Wilkins, Whitman's nurse, went to Philadelphia to purchase a wheeled chair for the poet that would allow him to be "pull'd or push'd" outdoors. See Whitman's letter to William Sloane Kennedy of May 8, 1889[back]


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