Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Samuel Hollyer, 5 August 1888

Date: August 5, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: wil.00005

Source: Chapin Library, Williams College. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Ted Genoways (Iowa City: University of Iowa press, 2004), 7:93. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stephanie Blalock and Amanda J. Axley

Camden New Jersey1
Aug 5 '88

Thanks for the etching wh' has come safely—it seems to me very fine2 & I shall probably write soon at greater length—

Walt Whitman

Samuel Hollyer (1826–1919) was an etcher, engraver, and artist. Born February 24, 1846, at St. George, Bloomsbury, Camden, England, Hollyer was the son of Samuel Hollyer, a gentleman, and his wife Mary Ann. Hollyer emigrated to the United States in the early 1850s, but traveled to England to marry Madeline Charlotte Chevalier, the daughter of the artist William Chevalier, at St. Pancras Parish Chapel in October 1863. The couple returned to the United States, residing in New Jersey and, later, New York for the remainder of their lives. Hollyer's engraving of Whitman as a laborer appears in the first edition of Leaves of Grass, published in 1855.


1. This letter is addressed: S. Hollyer | artist | Guttenberg | New Jersey. It is postmarked: (?) | 8PM | 88; (?) | Au5 | (?). [back]

2. Hollyer wrote to Whitman to request permission to make the etching. On April 3, 1888, Whitman sent Hollyer a photograph taken ca. 1876 by Jacob Spieler at the Charles H. Spieler Studios in Philadelphia, which Whitman referred to as the "Lear" (reproduced in The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, vol. 4, following page 278, and in Specimen Days [1971], plate 180). Whitman referred favorably to the finished etching on August 4, 1888, in his letter to the Canadian physician Richard Maurice Bucke, and in his Commonplace Book on the preceding day (see Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). For Whitman's reservations later, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, August 12, 1888 and Wednesday, August 15, 1888[back]


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