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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 10 September [1874 or 1875]


I am about as usual—your postal card came to-day—papers last Monday—As I write, (1 p.m.) am having one of my bad mid-day head spells—but shall probably get as usual toward sundown—dry, warm, dusty weather here days—fine nights

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Peter Doyle (1843–1907) was one of Walt Whitman's closest comrades and lovers, and their friendship spanned nearly thirty years. The two met in 1865 when the twenty-one-year-old Doyle was a conductor in the horsecar where the forty-five-year-old Whitman was a passenger. Despite his status as a veteran of the Confederate Army, Doyle's uneducated, youthful nature appealed to Whitman. Although Whitman's stroke in 1873 and subsequent move from Washington to Camden limited the time the two could spend together, their relationship rekindled in the mid-1880s after Doyle moved to Philadelphia and visited nearby Camden frequently. After Whitman's death, Doyle permitted Richard Maurice Bucke to publish the letters Whitman had sent him. For more on Doyle and his relationship with Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Doyle, Peter," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This postcard is addressed: Pete Doyle, | M st. South—bet 4½ & 6th | Washington, D. C. It is postmarked: Camden | Sep | 10 | N.J. The postcard cannot be assigned to a specific year for obvious reasons: the allusions to his health are vague and are in fact applicable to almost any time between 1873 and 1876; there are no concrete references to events which would make dating possible. However, it was written on a standard government postcard which was redesigned in 1876. [back]
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