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Abraham Stoker to Walt Whitman, 14 February 1876

 loc_gt.00191_large.jpg My dear Mr. Whitman, 'Bram Stoker Feb, '76.

I hope you will not consider this letter from an utter stranger a liberty. Indeed, I hardly feel a stranger to you, nor is this the first letter that I have written to you. My friend Edward Dowden1 has told me often that you like new acquaintances or I should rather say friends. And as an old friend I send you an inclosure  loc_gt.00192_large.jpg which may interest you. Four years ago I wrote the enclosed draft of a letter which I intended to copy out and send to you2—it has lain in my desk since then—when I had heard that you were addressed as Mr. Whitman. It speaks for itself and needs no comment. It is as truly what I wanted to say as that light is light. The four years which have elapsed have made me love your work four fold and I can truly say that I have ever spoken as your friend. You know what  loc_gt.00193_large.jpg hostile criticism your work sometimes evokes here, and I wage a perpetual war with many friends on your behalf. But I am glad to say that I have been the means of making your work known to many who were scoffers at first. The years which have passed have not been uneventful to me, and I have felt and thought and suffered much in them, and I can truly say that from you I have had much pleasure and much consolation—and  loc_gt.00194_large.jpg I do believe that your open earnest speech has not been thrown away on me or that my life & thoughts fail to be marked with its impress—I write thus openly because I feel that with you one must be open. We have just had tonight a hot debate on your genius at the Fortnightly Club3 in which I had the privilege of putting forward my views—I think with success. Do not think me "cheeky" for writing thus. I only hope we may sometime meet & I shall be able perhaps to say what I cannot write. Dowden promised to get me a copy of your new edition4—and I hope that for any other work which you may have you will let me always be an early subscriber. I am sorry that you are not strong. Many of us were hoping to see you in Ireland.

We had arranged to have a meeting for you—I do not know if you like getting letters. If you do I shall only be too happy to send you news of how thought goes among the men I know—

With truest wishes for your health and happiness believe me Your friend Bram Stoker

Abraham ("Bram") Stoker (1847–1912) was an Irish writer and the author of the novel Dracula (1897). Stoker was the personal assistant and secretary to the actor Sir Henry Irving, and served as the business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in the West End of London, which Iriving owned.


  • 1. Edward Dowden (1843–1913), professor of English literature at the University of Dublin, was one of the first to critically appreciate Whitman's poetry, particularly abroad, and was primarily responsible for Whitman's popularity among students in Dublin. In July 1871, Dowden penned a glowing review of Whitman's work in the Westminster Review entitled "The Poetry of Democracy: Walt Whitman," in which Dowden described Whitman as "a man unlike any of his predecessors. . . . Bard of America, and Bard of democracy." In 1888, Whitman observed to Traubel: "Dowden is a book-man: but he is also and more particularly a man-man: I guess that is where we connect" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Sunday, June 10, 1888, 299). For more, see Philip W. Leon, "Dowden, Edward (1843–1913)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 2. See Stoker's letter dated February 18, 1872. For Whitman's thoughts on the letter, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, February 19, 1889. [back]
  • 3. On February 16, 1876, Dowden mentioned a discussion of "The Genius of Walt Whitman" at the Fortnightly Club that had taken place two days earlier. [back]
  • 4. During America's centennial celebration in 1876, Whitman reissued the fifth edition of Leaves of Grass in the repackaged form of a "Centennial Edition" and "Author's Edition," with most copies personally signed by the poet. For more information, see Frances E. Keuling-Stout, "Leaves of Grass, 1876, Author's Edition," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
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