Skip to main content

Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 25 January 1889


Your welcome letter of 23d1 came to hand this forenoon, also a little bundle of papers which I was glad to get. I fear you are having a mighty dull time of it, dear Walt, and I wonder you keep up heart as you do. Letter from our New York patent lawyer today,2 all seems to be going well3 and I hope to be in Phild. before the middle of Feb. Hope so as I want to see you very much and if those friends of yours down there want a lecture on W.W. from me I trust to be prepared to give them a good one "tho I say it as shouldn't." All quiet & well here. Regular spring day today, sun shining bright & warm, we have had no winter yet

Affectionately R M Bucke  loc_es.00562.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. See Whitman's letter to Bucke of January 23, 1889. [back]
  • 2. For a mention of this letter, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Saturday, January 26, 1889. [back]
  • 3. Bucke and his brother-in-law William John Gurd were designing a gas and fluid meter to be patented in Canada and sold in England. [back]
Back to top