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Wallace Wood to Walt Whitman, 2 February 1891

 loc.03239.003_large.jpg My Dear Sir

May we venture to hope that you will feel moved to say a word or two for the Herald's Symposium on the anthropological and ethical question of the "Perfect Man"—or, What are the cardinal points to be insisted upon for the all around development of the coming American?2

Whatever you may tell us will be of real value to the cause of science.

Very Sincerely Wallace Wood  loc.03239.004_large.jpg  loc.03239.001_large.jpg  loc.03239.002_large.jpg

Wallace Wood (1858–1916) was a scholar and scientific writer, who was the Samuel F. Morse chair of art at New York University. Wood was the author of several books, including Twenty Styles of Architecture (1881) and A New Method in Brain Study (1899). In 1892, he edited Ideals of Life. Human Perfection. How to Attain It., an "anthropological and ethical symposium," that collected pieces by prominent artists, scientists, and celebrities. Wood's introduction to the symposium claims that many of the contributions have "appeared in the New York Herald" (page 6), and he solicited the poet's participation in this symposium. Whitman's response, "The Civilized World Working Toward the Answer: The Democratic Poet," appeared in Ideals of Life, 389–390, followed by a biographical sketch, excerpts of his poetry, and excerpts of interviews with the poet (391–394). For more information, see Wood's obituary in the New York Herald (December 17, 1916), 8, and see also his introduction to Ideals of Life (New York: E. B. Treat, 1892), 5–10.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esq | Camden | N.J. It is postmarked: New York | Feb 2 | 11 PM | 91; Camden, N.J. | Feb | 3 | 6 AM | 1891 | Rec'd. [back]
  • 2. For Whitman's response, see his letter to Wood of March 3, 1891. [back]
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