Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Thomas Donaldson, 9 November 1885

Date: November 9, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00448

Source: The Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:407. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

328 Mickle St: Camden
Nov: 9 '851

Dear T D

Yours rec'd with L[awrence] B[arrett]'s check & the ferry pass2—Many & best thanks—I will come over & see you all soon.

I am in good spirits, & somewhat better, but fearfully lame & disabled yet3—go out with the horse & buggy every afternoon4


Thomas Donaldson (1843–1898) was a lawyer from Philadelphia and a friend of Whitman. He introduced Whitman to Bram Stoker and later accompanied Stoker when he visited the poet; he also organized a fund-raising drive to buy Whitman a horse and carriage. He authored a biography of Whitman titled Walt Whitman, the Man (1896). For more information about Donaldson, see Steven Schroeder, "Donaldson, Thomas (1843–1898)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Thos: Donaldson | 326 North 40th Street | Philadelphia. It is postmarked: Camden | Nov | 9 | 1885 | N.J.; Received | Nov 9 | 3 PM | Phila. [back]

2. Barrett, the actor (see the letter from Whitman to Harry Stafford of February 10, 1884), sent $10 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). On November 9 Whitman received through Donaldson "Ferry pass for horse & buggy" (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]

3. On October 19, accompanied by Dr. William Osler, Whitman went to see Professor Norris "ab't my eyes . . . satisfactory visit & examination—I had feared I was becoming blind. Dr N. decidedly discountenanced the idea" (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]

4. William Duckett was the driver. After he received the carriage Whitman visited his friends more frequently. On November 1 he noted his "5th visit" to the Staffords. He went to see Harry Stafford and his wife later in the month, and had Thanksgiving Day dinner with Debbie Browning on November 26 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). On either November 5 or 6 Sir Graham Balfour (1858–1929), the cousin and biographer of Robert Louis Stevenson, and Earl Russell, John Francis Stanley (1865–1931), a barrister and brother of Bertrand Russell (who was later to marry Alys Smith), called on Whitman. Russell contributed to the English offering; see William Michael Rossetti's letter of October 6[back]


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