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Walt Whitman to Thomas Donaldson, 14 January 1889

 loc.01481.003_large.jpg Dear TD

I am here imprison'd yet in my sick room—don't get any thing that can be call'd a set back (yet)—but physical weakness & disability remain fully the same as ever, & I can't get out, or even around the house—take no medicine—am free from any pronounc'd pain &c—Best love to you & all—


What has become of Clayton Peirson3 the young fellow that came over to see me sixteen or eighteen months ago?

I have a copy of my big 900 Vol. "Complete Poems & Prose"4 (plain bound) for you—& I think Ed Wilkins5 will bring it over to you ab't noon to-morrow Tuesday

 loc.01481.004_large.jpg  loc.01481.001_large.jpg  loc.01481.002_large.jpg

Thomas Donaldson (1843–1898) was a lawyer from Philadelphia and a friend of Whitman. He introduced Whitman to Bram Stoker and later accompanied Stoker when he visited the poet; he also organized a fund-raising drive to buy Whitman a horse and carriage. He authored a biography of Whitman titled Walt Whitman, the Man (1896). For more information about Donaldson, see Steven Schroeder, "Donaldson, Thomas (1843–1898)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Thomas Donaldson | 326 N 40th Street | Philadelphia. It is postmarked: Ca[illegible] | Jan 14 | 8 PM | 89. The envelope is printed with Whitman's address as follows: Walt Whitman, | Camden, | New Jersey. [back]
  • 2. Thomas Donaldson (1843–1898) was a Philadelphia attorney whom Whitman met in 1882. Donaldson helped to facilitate meetings between Whitman and Bram Stoker in the 1880s, and raised money for the purchase of a horse and buggy for Whitman in 1885. He also wrote a biography of Whitman titled Walt Whitman: The Man (New York: Francis P. Harper, 1896). For more about Whitman's relationship with Donaldson, see Steven Schroeder, "Donaldson, Thomas (1843–1898)," in Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), 185. [back]
  • 3. According to an entry in The Commonplace-Book on March 25, 1887, Clayton Wesley Peirson took Walt Whitman's "'Day Book' to be re-bound—(is to make me a new one also)." At the beginning of his last "Day Book," the poet noted: "CWP is located (July 24 '90) at 3819 Lancaster av: Phila—real estate office." (The Commonplace-Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 4. Whitman's Complete Poems & Prose (1888)included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. The nearly 900-page book was published in December 1888. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]
  • 5. Edward "Ned" Wilkins (1865–1936) was one of Whitman's nurses during his Camden years; he was sent to Camden from London, Ontario, by Dr. Richard M. Bucke, and he began caring for Whitman on November 5, 1888. He stayed for a year before returning to Canada to attend the Ontario Veterinary School. Wilkins graduated on March 24, 1893, and then he returned to the United States to commence his practice in Alexandria, Indiana. For more information, see Bert A. Thompson, "Edward Wilkins: Male Nurse to Walt Whitman," Walt Whitman Review 15 (September 1969), 194–195. [back]
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