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Anne Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 12 November 1872

 loc_cb.00315.jpg My dearest Friend,

I must write not because I have anything to tell you—but because I want so, by help of a few loving words, to come into your presence as it were—into your remembrance  loc_cb.00318.jpg Not more do the things that grow want the Sun.

I have received all the papers—& each has made a day very bright for me.

I hope the trip to California has not again had to be postponed—I realize  loc_cb.00319.jpg well the enjoyment of it, & what it would be to California & the fresh impulses of thought & emotion that would shape themselves melodiously out of that for the new volume—

My children are all well. Beatrice1 is working hard to get through the requisite  loc_cb.00316.jpg amount of Latin &c. that is required in the preliminary examination—before entering on medical studies. Percy2 my eldest, whom I have not seen for a year is coming to spend Xmas with us—

Good bye dearest Friend. Anne Gilchrist.

Anne Burrows Gilchrist (1828–1885) was the author of one of the first significant pieces of criticism on Leaves of Grass, titled "A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman (From Late Letters by an English Lady to W. M. Rossetti)," The Radical 7 (May 1870), 345–59. Gilchrist's long correspondence with Whitman indicates that she had fallen in love with the poet after reading his work; when the pair met in 1876 when she moved to Philadelphia, Whitman never fully returned her affection, although their friendship deepened after that meeting. For more information on their relationship, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Anne Burrows (1828–1885)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. Beatrice Carwardine Gilchrist (1854–1881) was the second child (and first daughter) of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist. An aspiring physician, Beatrice took the needed preparatory classes but was barred (as were all women) from becoming a medical student in England. As a result, she attended the Women's Medical College in Philadelphia. She held positions as a physician in Berne, Switzerland, and later Edinburgh before committing suicide by fatally ingesting hydrocyanic acid in 1881. [back]
  • 2. Percy Carlyle Gilchrist (1851–1935) was a British chemist and metallurgist, and the son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist. Along with his cousin, Sidney Gilchrist Thomas, he developed the Thomas-Gilchrist process of producing steel from phosphoric pig iron during the late 1870s. See Marion Walker Alcaro, Walt Whitman's Mrs. G: A Biography of Anne Gilchrist (Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 1991), 252n28. [back]
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