Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Ellen M. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 5 March 1889

Date: March 5, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: syr.00056

Source: Walt Whitman Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library, Syracuse, N.Y. The transcription presented here is derived from With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906–1996), ed. Horace Traubel (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953), 4:292. 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, Ian Faith, Stephanie Blalock, and Brandon James O'Neil




Washington,
March 5, 1889.

Thanks, many thanks, for books that came safely a few hours ago. William1 was much pleased, not only with the gift, but with the book—type, print, all.2 I shall try to write more fully soon. All about as last Sat. The postal cards3 and papers all welcome. The 4th was a horrid day here. With love from us both.


Nellie.


Correspondent:
Ellen M. "Nelly" O'Connor was the wife of William D. O'Connor (1832–1889), one of Whitman's staunchest defenders. Before marrying William, Ellen Tarr was active in the antislavery and women's rights movements as a contributor to the Liberator and to a women's rights newspaper Una. Whitman dined with the O'Connors frequently during his Washington years. Though Whitman and William O'Connor would temporarily break off their friendship in late 1872 over Reconstruction policies with regard to emancipated black citizens, Ellen would remain friendly with Whitman. The correspondence between Whitman and Ellen is almost as voluminous as the poet's correspondence with William. For more on Whitman's relationship with the O'Connors, see Dashae 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).

Notes:

1. William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet "The Good Gray Poet," published in 1866 (a digital version of the pamphlet is available at "The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication"). 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). [back]

2. Whitman sent two copies of his Complete Poems & Prose (1888) to the O'Connors. See Whitman's letter to William D. O'Connor of March 3, 1889[back]

3. Whitman had written to William D. O'Connor on March 1 and on March 4, 1889[back]


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