Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Edward Carpenter, 16 January 1889

Date: January 16, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: prc.00122

Source: Private collection of John Z. Katz. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:269–270. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Caterina Bernardini, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock

Camden N J1
U S America
Jan: 16 '89

I was too fast & all wrong abt the drafts.2 The first one was duly rec'd (I was very ill at the time) & cash'd—Best thanks. The second, the duplicate, I have destroy'd—Remain here laid up in the old sick room, but sort of comfortable—just had a letter f'm the Misses Ford3—Remembrances & love to you4

Walt Whitman

Edward Carpenter (1844–1929) was an English writer and Whitman disciple. Like many other young disillusioned Englishmen, he deemed Whitman a prophetic spokesman of an ideal state cemented in the bonds of brotherhood. Carpenter—a socialist philosopher who in his book Civilisation, Its Cause and Cure posited civilization as a "disease" with a lifespan of approximately one thousand years before human society cured itself—became an advocate for same-sex love and a contributing early founder of Britain's Labour Party. On July 12, 1874, he wrote for the first time to Whitman: "Because you have, as it were, given me a ground for the love of men I thank you continually in my heart . . . . For you have made men to be not ashamed of the noblest instinct of their nature." For further discussion of Carpenter, see Arnie Kantrowitz, "Carpenter, Edward [1844–1929]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Edward Carpenter | Millthorpe | near Chesterfield | England. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Jan (?) | 8 PM | 89. [back]

2. See Whitman's letter to Carpenter of January 11, 1889, where he mistakenly informs Carpenter that he had not received the original money draft. [back]

3. Isabella Ford (1855–1924) was an English feminist, socialist, and writer. Elizabeth (Bessie) Ford was her sister. Both were introduced to Whitman's writings by Edward Carpenter and they quickly became admirers of Whitman. [back]

4. On January 13, 1889, Carpenter sent Whitman a copy of his review of November Boughs that appeared in the April issue of The Scottish Art Review, and enclosed a gift of 22s. 6d. from an anonymous Belfast friend. See Carpenter's letter to Whitman of January 13, 1889[back]


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