Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Ellen M. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 12 March 1889

Date: March 12, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: syr.00058

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 (1906–1998), ed. Horace Traubel (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953), 4:335. 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, Stefan Schöberlein, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock




Washington,
March 12, 1889.

William1 has recovered his mental balance, and is once more rational; as he says, the "hallucinations" are gone; but he is very weak, and tires very soon. I hope some time to be able to write you, but no one can realize how often I have to run from one thing to another, nor how much care I have of William. I try to keep up.


Nelly O'C.


Correspondent:
Ellen M. "Nelly" O'Connor was the wife of William D. O'Connor (1832–1889), one of Whitman's staunchest defenders. 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, "William Douglas O'Connor," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, ed., (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]


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