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Walt Whitman to Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe, 23 November 1886

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I am ab't as usual—took a long drive by myself midday yesterday—basked in the sun & drove slow—Have just had my dinner & enjoyed it.—Your last rec'd yesterday—(a sweet newsy, cheery letter, dear M)2—Your father comes occasionally—is well & hearty—So you are at the reminiscences are you3—Heaven help you.

Love— W. W.

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).


  • 1. This postal card is addressed: Mrs: Costelloe | 40 Grosvenor Road | the Embankment | London | S W | England. It is postmarked: CAMDEN | NOV | 23 | 3 PM | N.J. [back]
  • 2. On October 21 Mary Costelloe had informed the poet that she and her husband were about to go as delegates "to the great Liberal Convention at Birmingham. . . . The great event will be Mr. Gladstone's speech—wh. is to be phonographed!" [back]
  • 3. Mrs. Costelloe's article about Whitman's "Camden entourage" appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette on December 23: "Walt Whitman at Camden. | By One who has been there." [back]
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