Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Herbert Gilchrist, 12 March 1888

Date: March 12, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: upa.00086

Source: Walt Whitman Collection, 1842–1957, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania. 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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Ian Faith, Stefan Schöberlein, and Stephanie Blalock

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Camden New Jersey US America1
March 12 '88

Dear H—

Yours of Feb: 17 is rec'd all right—best thanks to Mrs. Rosamund Powell for continuous subscription, safely rec'd2—I am in good heart & still writing a little but near the end of my rope I opine—Mrs.S[tafford]3 was here lately—& she is first rate—all the rest pretty well—

Tell me the fortunes of the bust,4 whatever happens

—Morse5 is still west—Rhys6 is in Boston7


Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This postal card is addressed: Herbert H. Gilchrist | 12 Well Road | Hampstead | London England. It is postmarked: Camden | MAR | 8 PM | 88; PHILADELPHIA | 1 [illegible] | 1888 | Paid. [back]

2. In his letter of February 17, 1888, Herbert Gilchrist enclosed a financial contribution of 3 pounds from Rosamund Powell, a friend Gilchrist's friend, the English teacher Leonard M. Brown (c. 1857–1928). [back]

3. Susan M. Lamb Stafford (1833–1910) was the mother of Harry Stafford (1858–1918), who, in 1876, became a close friend of Whitman while working at the printing office of the Camden New Republic. Whitman regularly visited the Staffords at their family farm near Kirkwood, New Jersey. Whitman enjoyed the atmosphere and tranquility that the farm provided and would often stay for weeks at a time (see David G. Miller, "Stafford, George and Susan M.," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings [New York: Garland Publishing, 1998], 685). [back]

4. Whitman had sent one of Sidney Morse's plaster busts of the poet to his friend Robert Pearsall Smith in England; see Whitman's letter to Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe of September 14, 1887[back]

5. Sidney H. Morse (1832–1903) was a self-taught sculptor as well as a Unitarian minister and, from 1866 to 1872, editor of The Radical. He visited Whitman in Camden many times and made various busts of him. Whitman had commented on an earlier bust by Morse that it was "wretchedly bad." For more on this, see Ruth L. Bohan, Looking into Walt Whitman: American Art, 1850–1920 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), 105–109. [back]

6. Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

7. In his letter of March 7, 1888, Ernest Rhys reported the "very hearty reception" given to him by Harvard University students. [back]


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