Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Thomas B. Harned, 19 April 1888

Date: April 19, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: prc.00069

Source: This manuscript is in the private collection of Kendall Reed. Miller derives his transcription of this letter from a transcript published in the catalog of Stan V. Henkels, May 8, 1917. The transcription presented here is derived from The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:165. 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, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

April 19 '88

Billy Thompson, of Gloucester,1 has just been here to invite me down to baked shad dinner at his place, Tuesday next, abt 2.2—Wishes me to invite you in his name & my own—You come here say ½ past 12 & we will drive down in my rig—Be back by dark or before. . . .

Walt Whitman

Thomas Biggs Harned (1851–1921) was one of Whitman's literary executors. Harned was a lawyer in Philadelphia and, having married Augusta Anna Traubel, was Horace Traubel's brother-in-law. For more on him, see Dena Mattausch, "Harned, Thomas Biggs (1851–1921)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. William J. "Billy" Thompson (1848–1911), known as "The Duke of Gloucester" and "The Statesman," was a friend of Whitman's who operated a hotel, race track, and amusement park on the beach overlooking the Delaware River at Gloucester, New Jersey. His shad and champagne dinners for Whitman were something of a tradition. See William Sloane Kennedy, Reminiscences of Walt Whitman (London: Alexander Gardner, 1896), 15–16. [back]

2. For accounts of Whitman's other celebrations during the shad season at Thompson's, see his letters to William Sloane Kennedy on April 27, 1886 and April 29, [1887]. An account of the festivities in 1888 appears in Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, April 29, 1888[back]


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