Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William D. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 7 March 1885

Date: March 7, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: syr.00020

Source: Walt Whitman Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library, Syracuse, N.Y. 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: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Nicole Gray, Ian Faith, and Kyle Barton

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Washington, D.C.
March 7, 1885.

Dear Walt:

I sent you today by express the picture of Lord Bacon by Vandyck I mentioned some little time ago.1 I hope you will like it. It is the only picture of Bacon I ever saw without the hat. I felt surer than ever when I saw that Olympian forehead that this was the author of Shakespeare.

I wish the picture was a steel engraving, instead of wood, but it was the only one eligible.

Give it a place on your wall.

The Manhattan is going to be revived shortly and is to print my paper, called "Hamlet's Note-Book", the one giving R. G. White a going over,2 of which I wrote you some time ago. The editor writes me a letter so unqualified in panegyric of the article that I am astonished.

I am just having a temporary respite from the worst spell of work ever laid on me. Soon it will begin again.

W.D. O'Connor.

Walt Whitman.

William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication, published in 1866. For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. See O'Connor's letter to Whitman of February 1, 1885. [back]

2. O'Connor understood his book as a "Baconian reply to R. G. White," a literary critic and scholar who argued that Shakespeare was not a pseudonym of Francis Bacon but indeed a separate historic figure and author. After numerous publishers had declined O'Connor's manuscript, it was finally published in 1886 by Houghton, Mifflin and Company (Boston and New York). See also O'Connor's letter to Whitman of January 21, 1886[back]


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