Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Henry A. Beers, 20 May 1881

Date: May 20, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00429

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), 3:225. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

May 20 '811

Your pleasant note of 16th rec'd2—glad you wrote—just now I am down in the country temporarily—in the Jersey woods3—am well for me—

Walt Whitman


1. This letter bears the address: Henry A Beers | New Haven | Conn:. It is postmarked: Kirkwood | May | 21(?) | N.J. [back]

2. Henry Augustin Beers (1847–1926) was a poet and professor of English literature at Yale. On May 16, 1881, Beers wrote to thank Whitman for quoting his verses in The American on May 14: "To a young writer, uncertain of himself, the slightest notice from an older & distinguished brother in the craft is very precious . . . because it gives him heart in his work." Whitman responded to Beers on May 20, 1881. Beers in 1898 termed Whitman "a great sloven" (see William Sloane Kennedy, The Fight of a Book for the World [West Yarmouth, MA: The Stonecroft Press, 1926], 136). Similar reservations appear in his Four Americans (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1919), 85–90. [back]

3. Whitman was at Glendale from May 13 to 26 except for a brief visit to Camden on May 17 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.); see also Walt Whitman's Diary in Canada, ed. William Sloane Kennedy (Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1904), 58–59. [back]


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