Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Jeannette L. and Joseph B. Gilder to Walt Whitman, 1 November 1890

Date: November 1, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: uva.00617

Source: Papers of Walt Whitman (MSS 3829), Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. 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.

Related item: Whitman used the back of this letter to write a manuscript draft of his response to the Gilders' request to know what he was writing at the time.

Contributors to digital file: Marie Ernster, Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, Stephanie Blalock, and Paige Wilkinson

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Nov. 1, 1890.

Dear Mr. Whitman:

In the Holiday Announcement Number of THE CRITIC,1 to be issued this month, in an edition of more than 20,000 copies, we desire to tell our readers what the best-known authors are doing; and to that end, we venture to ask you to let us know what work you have in hand.

We should not trouble you to answer this question if we did not believe you could do so in a few words and with little sacrifice of precious time.

A number containing the interesting and authentic information that we hope thus to be enabled to lay before our readers would demonstrate anew THE CRITIC'S right to call itself a literary NEWSpaper—a title which it has done its best to earn during the ten years now drawing to a close.

The facts you may send us will be given in the third person—i. e,. not quoted as coming directly from the author.

Hoping to hear from you as soon as you can make it convenient to reply, we remain,2

Very truly yours,

Jeannette Leonard Gilder (1849–1916) and her brother Joseph Benson Gilder (1858–1936) edited The Critic together from 1881 to 1906. For more information on Jeannette Gilder, see Susan L. Roberson, "Gilder, Jeannette L. (1849–1916)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. The Critic (1881–1906) was a literary magazine co-edited by Joseph Benson Gilder (1858–1936), with his sister Jeannette Leonard Gilder (1849–1916). Whitman's poems "The Pallid Wreath" (January 10, 1891) and "To The Year 1889" (January 5, 1889) were first published in The Critic, as was his essay, "An Old Man's Rejoinder" (August 16, 1890), responding to John Addington Symonds's chapter about Whitman in his Essays Speculative and Suggestive (1890). [back]

2. There is a squiggly line in what appears to be the same ink as in the Gilders' signature next to the typed text beginning "--i.e,. not quoted" and ending with "we remain." [back]


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