Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Joseph M. Stoddart, 8 January 1891

Date: January 8, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00483

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), 5:147–148. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

P M Jan: 8 '91

Personal | My dear J M S

If we are going into this thing1 my notion is to do it as thoroughly as consistent & tempered by publishing a monthly mag: for popular reading. My suggestion w'd be (if you feel to give space enough) to print after that "personal memoranda" of mine, the three pieces as follows:

the Quaker bit
the piece ab't L of G. in science
& then Traubel's2 piece, (pretty high handed & eulogistic as it is)3

each of these three pieces signed by its author's name (now that O'Connor4 and Mrs: Gilchrist5 are dead those three are perhaps my best representative adherents, illustrators & longest knowers, personal & literary)—H T has been & is faithful & invaluable to me—I have cull'd out some parts of his MS too eulogistic & transcendental & if you note any more, do so further—I have been clear to supervise all this matter not only f'm the self-description & self-love points, but also of the point of view of an article for a monthly mag: for miscellaneous readers.

H T's MS will probably come to you forthwith—Let me see good proofs in good time.6

Walt Whitman

Joseph Marshall Stoddart (1845–1921) published Stoddart's Encyclopaedia America, established Stoddart's Review in 1880, which was merged with The American in 1882, and became the editor of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1886. On January 11, 1882, Whitman received an invitation from Stoddart through J. E. Wainer, one of his associates, to dine with Oscar Wilde on January 14 (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 235n).


1. See Stoddart's January 5, 1891 letter to Whitman for more information about Stoddart's intent to publish works by and about Whitman in the March 1891 issues of Lippincott's. This is the poet's response to Stoddart's plan for publication. [back]

2. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the late 1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Whitman is referring to William Sloane Kennedy's "Walt Whitman's Quaker Traits" (but he probably meant the unprinted "Walt Whitman's Dutch Traits"), Richard Maurice Bucke's "Leaves of Grass and Modern Science," and Horace Traubel's biographical piece. As usual, Whitman was carefully supervising publication. [back]

4. 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). [back]

5. Anne Burrows Gilchrist (1828–1885) was the author of one of the first significant pieces of criticism on Leaves of Grass, titled "A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman (From Late Letters by an English Lady to W. M. Rossetti)," The Radical 7 (May 1870), 345–59. Gilchrist's long correspondence with Whitman indicates that she had fallen in love with the poet after reading his work; when the pair met in 1876 when she moved to Philadelphia, Whitman never fully returned her affection, although their friendship deepened after that meeting. For more information on their relationship, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Anne Burrows (1828–1885)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

6. In March 1891, Lippincott's Magazine published "Old Age Echoes," a cycle of four poems including "Sounds of the Winter," "The Unexpress'd," "Sail Out for Good, Eidólon Yacht," and "After the Argument," accompanied by an extensive autobiographical note called "Some Personal and Old-Age Memoranda." Also appearing in that issue was a piece on Whitman entitled, "Walt Whitman: Poet and Philosopher and Man" by Horace Traubel. [back]


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