Skip to main content

Ellen M. O'Connor to Walt Whitman, 31 May 1891


Wishing you many happy returns of this day,2 & good in all ways.

With love— Nelly O'Connor.  loc.03008.001_large.jpg see notes June 1st 1891

Ellen M. "Nelly" O'Connor was the wife of William D. O'Connor (1832–1889), one of Whitman's staunchest defenders. Whitman dined with the O'Connors frequently during his Washington years, and he speaks often in his letters of their daughter Jean, by nickname "Jenny" or "Jeannie." Though Whitman and William O'Connor would break in late 1872 over Reconstruction policies with regard to emancipated black citizens, Ellen would remain friendly with Whitman. The correspondence between Whitman and Ellen is almost as voluminous as the poet's correspondence with William. For more on Whitman's relationship with the O'Connors, see also Dashae E. Lott, "William Douglas O'Connor," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, ed., (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman, | Camden, | New Jersey. It is postmarked: CAMDEN, N.J. | JUN1 | 6AM | 1891 | REC'D. There is a Washington, D. C. postmark on the postal card, but it is only partially visible. [back]
  • 2. O'Connor wrote this postal card to send Whitman greetings and best wishes on the occasion of his seventy-second (and last) birthday on May 31, 1891. The day was celebrated with friends at Whitman's home on Mickle Street. [back]
Back to top