Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John White Alexander, 20 February 1886

Date: February 20, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: pru.00001

Source: Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library . The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:20. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Grace Thomas, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Elizabeth Lorang, and Kyle Barton

328 Mickle Street
Camden Feb: 20 '86

Dear Sir1

Yours of 19th rec'd—Yes, Monday will suit me—will be ready for you by 10 1/2 a m—

Walt Whitman

John White Alexander (1856–1915) was an American painter and illustrator, well known for his portraits of famous Americans including Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Burroughs, as well as Whitman, whose portrait he worked on from 1886 to 1889.


1. For three days beginning on Monday, February 22, 1886, Whitman sat for a portrait by Alexander. On April 17, 1891, Alexander informed Whitman that one of the poet's admirers had purchased and presented the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: "I am delighted to have been the means of giving to future generations a portrait of you that is certainly one of my best works" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). The naturalist John Burroughs, however, termed the portrait "a Bostonese Whitman—an emasculated Whitman—failing to show his power and ruggedness" (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 261). Whitman himself was not impressed (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Thursday, May 10, 1888 and Friday, June 8, 1888). [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.