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Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 25 October 1888


The "Press"2 came to hand yesterday and leaves from Lippencotts​ 3 this morning—thanks. Nothing new here about going East—expect to hear something decisive almost any mail now—shall notify you as soon as I do. Am deep into another report to the government on a subject they expect to legislate on the coming session

Will soon write again

Affectionately R M Bucke  loc_es.00437.jpg  loc_es.00434.jpg See notes Oct 27 1888  loc_es.00435.jpg

Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | 328 Mickle Street | Camden | New Jersey U.S.A. It is postmarked: LONDON | PM | OC 25 | 88 | CANADA; CAMDEN, N.J. | OCT | 27 | [illegible]AM | [illegible] | REC'D. [back]
  • 2. A review of November Boughs by Melville Phillips appeared in the October 21, 1888, issue of the Philadelphia Press. [back]
  • 3. Whitman mentions Lippincott's to Horace Traubel on October 24, 1888: "The whole of that Rebel editor's diary appears in the November issue. I sent it to Dr. Bucke—tore out the leaves: rolled the rest of the magazine up with some other papers and mailed it to the Asylum. You know, I send a bundle of stuff—papers, odds and ends—every week"(see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Wednesday, October 24, 1888). The November 1888 issue of Lippincott's published "Extracts from the Diary of John R. Thompson." John Reuben Thompson (1823—1873) was an editor, journalist, and poet from Richmond, Virginia; he edited the Literary Messenger and Southern Field and Fireside before going to England in 1864 to become the head writer for the Index, the organ of Confederate opinion in England. From 1867 until his death, he was literary editor of the New York Evening Post. [back]
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