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Walt Whitman to Edmund Gosse, 31 December [1884]

 loc.02230.001_large.jpg Dear Mr. Gosse:

I shall be glad to see you—Call about 11 forenoon if convenient —I live less than half a mile from the ferry landing here, crossing from Philadelphia1

Walt Whitman  loc.02230.002_large.jpg

Sir Edmund William Gosse (1849–1928), English poet and author of Father and Son (a memoir published in 1907), had written to Whitman on December 12, 1873: "I can but thank you for all that I have learned from you, all the beauty you have taught me to see in the common life of healthy men and women, and all the pleasure there is in the mere humanity of other people" (see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, June 1, 1888). Gosse reviewed Two Rivulets in "Walt Whitman's New Book," The Academy, 9 (24 June 1876), 602–603, and visited Whitman in 1885 (see Whitman's letter inviting Gosse to visit on December 31, 1884, Gosse's December 29, 1884 letter to Whitman, and The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller [New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977], 3:384 n80). In a letter to Richard Maurice Bucke on October 31, 1889, Whitman characterized Gosse as "one of the amiable conventional wall-flowers of literature." For more about Gosse, see Jerry F. King, "Gosse, Sir Edmund (1849–1928)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. On December 29 Gosse asked permission to call on Whitman to deliver "to you in person the messages which I bring from Mr. Swinburne and other common friends in England." Although Whitman vaguely recorded the visit as on January "7th or before" in his Commonplace Book, Gosse called on Saturday morning, January 3. The Philadelphia Daily News of January 6 reported the visit in detail, with additions supplied by Whitman. Gosse informed the poet that recently Tennyson had "delighted a considerable audience with recitations for half an hour from 'Whitman's Leaves of Grass.'" Gosse described the visit in Critical Kit-Kats (1896), 95–111. [back]
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