Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe, [27 October 1889]

Date: [October 27, 1889]

Whitman Archive ID: uva.00599

Source: Papers of Walt Whitman (MSS 3829), Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. The transcription presented here is derived from The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:389. 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, Ryan Furlong, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock




Camden New Jersey US America1

Nothing very new or different, Alys2 comes often & is as welcomed as sunshine—I am sitting here in my den as ever—dark & rainy to-day & yesterday—My Canadian nurse & friend has left me—(he had a good chance to go into veterinary studies, finish & practice.)3 I am getting along better than you might imagine—a bad physical brain probably catarrhal—& hopeless locomotion—are my set fiends—fair spirits, appetite & nights however—


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe (1864–1945) was a political activist, art historian, and critic, whom Whitman once called his "staunchest living woman friend." A scholar of Italian Renaissance art and a daughter of Robert Pearsall Smith, she would in 1885 marry B. F. C. "Frank" Costelloe. She had been in contact with many of Whitman's English friends and would travel to Britain in 1885 to visit many of them, including Anne Gilchrist shortly before her death. For more, see Christina Davey, "Costelloe, Mary Whitall Smith (1864–1945)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed Mrs: Mary Whitall Costelloe | 40 Grosvenor Road | the Embankment | London | S W | England. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Oct 27 | 5 PM | 89. [back]

2. Alys Smith (1867–1951) was Mary's sister. She would eventually marry the philosopher Bertrand Russell. [back]

3. Edward "Ned" Wilkins (1865–1936) was one of Whitman's nurses during his Camden years; he was sent to Camden from London, Ontario, by Dr. Richard M. Bucke, and he began caring for Whitman on November 5, 1888. He stayed for a year before returning to Canada to attend the Ontario Veterinary School. For more information, see Bert A. Thompson, "Edward Wilkins: Male Nurse to Walt Whitman," Walt Whitman Review 15 (September 1969), 194–195. [back]


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