Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, [27 January 1873]

Date: January 27, 1873

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00403

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:192–193. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Zachary King, and Eric Conrad

Monday afternoon
½ past 3

Dearest Mother1,

Fearing you might worry about me I write to say I am doing very well indeed—(I understand the papers are making me out very sick indeed—It is not so.) I wrote you Sunday which I suppose you rec'd—I may not write again for two or three days—


The doctor has just been here—says I am getting along first rate—will probably be out, and about as well as usual in a week—

It is a heavy snow storm here to-day—I have many callers, but they are not admitted—as I don't care to see them—I write this sitting on the side of the bed, after 4—Don't be frightened should you may-be see or hear of any thing in the papers—you know they killed me off once before2—it is just sunset—the sun is shining out bright at last—


1. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman (1795–1873) married Walter Whitman, Sr., in 1816; together they had nine children, of whom Walt was the second. The close relationship between Louisa and her son Walt contributed to his liberal view of gender representation and his sense of comradeship. For more information on Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, see Sherry Ceniza, "Whitman, Louisa Van Velsor (1795–1873)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. According to his June 29, 1871 letter to Ellen M. O'Connor, Whitman had been reported killed in a "railroad smash." [back]


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