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Edith Surridge to Walt Whitman, 21 July 1891

 loc.03732.001_large.jpg Dear Walt Whitman.

Knowing that you will pardon the liberty I am taking, I venture to express the profound interest and pleasure which I have felt in reading your works—notably the "Leaves of Grass."

Three characteristics of this most original poem have endeared it to me—  loc.03732.002_large.jpg the receptivity for the criminal; the veneration for woman, and her relation to future generations; and the delight you manifest in Music.

As regards the first, I am firmly convinced that if the grand & loving spirit of toleration you display to the Sinners, were more general, sin would be less frequent and the sinner,—seeing the loving hand of a brother stretched out to aid him,—would make more effort—So recover his position; and  loc.03732.003_large.jpg so doing, would endeavor also to obey the command of Jesus, "go and sin no more".

As a woman, I cannot but be grateful for the expression of your opinion regarding her great & varied privileges; and as a teacher of Music, it has been a delight to me to read your exquisite expression of your love of that Art—the earliest of all nations & ages.

I know you must have more letters than you  loc.03732.004_large.jpg can sometimes find time to read, but I feel that I must tell you of my love of your beautiful poetry, and of my great esteem for the grand and free poet who has conceived and written it.

Trusting that I have not trespassed on your valuable time,

Believe me, dear Sir, to be Yours most sincerely, Edith Surridge  loc.03732.005_large.jpg Edith Surridge  loc.03732.006_large.jpg

Little is known about Edith Surridge save her work as a teacher of Music at Stoneygate College in Leicester, Leicestershire, England, in the 1890s. The school was founded in 1878 by sisters Gertrude and Jean MacKennal. It is now known as Leicester Prepatory School, and is the oldest prep school in Leicester.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman. | Poet. | Camden. | New Jersey | U.S.A.. It is postmarked: LEICESTER | JL' 21 | 91; LEICESTER | JL' 21 | 91; 449; 449. [back]
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