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Walt Whitman to the Philadelphia Press, 22 June 1886

 loc.03500.001_large.jpg  loc.03500.002_large.jpg Dear Sir

Is there any situation in the Press establishment, (counting-room or writing staff,) that could serve for my young friend, William H. Duckett,1 who was with me the afternoon of the lecture? He is used to the city, & to life & people—is in his 18th year—has the first Knack of Literature—& is reliable & honest—

Walt Whitman

The Philadelphia Press was a newspaper that operated from 1857 to 1920; it was edited by Charles Emory Smith (1842–1908) from 1880 until his death.


  • 1. Duckett (see the letter from Whitman to Thomas Donaldson of November 9, 1885) was a neighbor of Whitman, living at 534 Mickle Street, and often acted as the poet's driver. On December 12, 1885, he moved to Westmont, near Haddonfield, N.J. On May 1, 1886, he came "to 328 [Mickle Street] to board" and "left in early June" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). On July 18 he became a "news agent" on the railroad train, but was laid off early in September for a short period of time (Whitman's Commonplace Book). About this time he began to make notes about Whitman's activities, and on December 27 he asked Richard Maurice Bucke whether he wanted "my collection of notes about him." In his jottings Duckett observed that Whitman "was entirely free from indelicacy or any unchastity whatever"; he struck out the phrase "in any form" which originally followed "unchastity." On November 28 he noted that he had driven to the cemetery "where the poets beloved mother and little nephew are buried. It was his costume to visit there graives every few days" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection, the Library of Congress). There is a picture of Whitman and Duckett in October 1886 in Donaldson's Walt Whitman the Man (New York: Francis P. Harper [1896], 172). See also Whitman's letter to Richard Maurice Bucke of January 31, 1891 for Whitman's later difficulties with the young man. [back]
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