Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Anne Gilchrist, 28 November 1881

Date: November 28, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: pml.00051

Source: The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, N.Y. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:253–254. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

431 Stevens Street1
Camden New Jersey
U S America
Nov: 28 '81

My dear friend,

Have time & its influences at least helped to calm the terrible loss & shock & dislocation? Have you got so that letters and all outside news are not altogether painful intrusions? Hoping so I send just a line. (For a while I thought it must be some false report—I was in Boston at the time—& waited & waited until confirmed.)2

I am as well as any of late years—or perhaps better. My brother & sister are well. The Staffords the same. I am writing this in the sunshine up in my old 3d story room—Best best love to you & to Herby & Grace—

Walt Whitman

I send a Ledger with Arthur Peterson's3 letter—


1. This letter bears the address: Mrs Anne Gilchrist | Keats Corner 12 Well Road | Hampstead | London | England. It is postmarked: Philadelphia | Nov | 28 | Pa.; London | CM | De 10 | 81. [back]

2. Whitman was referring to the suicide of Beatrice Gilchrist. On December 14 Anne Gilchrist replied to Whitman: "Your welcome letter to hand. I have longed for a word from you—could not write myself—was stricken dumb—nay, there is nothing but silence for me still." The intensity of her grief is visible in the lines of an undated and unsigned letter: "My dear Children, you would not wish me to live if you knew how I suffered. Not grief alone—that I could learn to bear, to be resigned—but remorse—that I should have left her; that is like an envenomed wound poisoning all my life. 'Weighed & found wanting' am I. And there where I thought myself surest. O the love for her shut up in my heart" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). Probably Anne had encouraged Beatrice to abandon medicine (see the letter from Whitman to Herbert Gilchrist of April 24, 1880). Whitman apparently did not reply to Anne Gilchrist's letter of June 17, in which she apologized for not remembering his birthday: "it was past & I had not written one word—not just put my hand in yours as I would fain always do on that day." In the same letter she invited the poet to visit her: "a snug bed-room ready & waiting for you—as long as ever you will stay with us" (Walt Whitman Collection, 1842–1957, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania). [back]

3. A friend of the Gilchrists (see the letter from Whitman to Anne Gilchrist of November 10, 1878). [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.