Skip to main content

Raymond Blathwayt to Walt Whitman, 6 May 1891

 loc_jm.00157.jpg My Dear Sir

I hope you will allow me to come & have a chat with you2 for the Pall Mall Gazette,3 for which paper I am one of the chief writers. I could come to you about the beginning of June.4 I go to see Dr O. W. Holmes,5 & Mr Russell Lowell6 by invitation next week.

Faithfully Yours Raymond Blathwayt  loc_jm.00158.jpg  loc_jm.00155.jpg  loc_jm.00156.jpg

Raymond Blathwayt (1855–1936) was born in London and began his career as a clergyman while also gaining experience in literary work and engaging in philanthropic efforts among the urban poor. He went on to become a journalist and an actor on the silent screen. He often wrote celebrity interviews, many of which were collected in Interviews (1893), including his talks with authors Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894), and Mark Twain (1835–1910). Later, he had parts in such films as The Great Moment (1921) and Beyond the Rocks (1922).


  • 1. This letter is addressed Mr Walt Whitman | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Baltimore, [M. D.] | May 6 | 430PM | 91; Camden, N.J. | May | 7 | 6AM | 1891 | Rec'd. The printed return address reading "University Club. | 1005 North Charles Street." has been crossed out both on the stationery and on the envelope. [back]
  • 2. Blathwayt is reiterating a prior request for an interview with Whitman. See Blathwayt's letter to Whitman of April 17, 1891. [back]
  • 3. The Pall Mall Gazette was a daily evening newspaper in London that was founded by British publisher George Murray Smith (1824–1901) in 1865. Frederick Greenwood (1830–1909), an English journalist, was the paper's first editor. One of the paper's most well-known editors and innovator in investigative journalism was William T. Stead (1849–1912), who edited the paper until 1889. In the early 1890s, the paper was edited by the journalist and biographer Sir Edward Tyas Cook (1857–1919). The paper published works by and about Whitman during its run. The Pall Mall Gazette was merged into The Evening Standard in 1923. [back]
  • 4. Horace Traubel notes in his With Walt Whitman in Camden that, after reading this letter, Whitman said: "Now as I grow old—useless, helpless—I seem to come in great demand." Traubel writes that Whitman "was in doubt what to respond" to Blathwayt (With Walt Whitman in Camden, Thursday, May 7, 1891). [back]
  • 5. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–1894) was a Bostonian author, physician, and lecturer. One of the Fireside Poets, he was a good friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson as well as John Burroughs. Holmes remained ambivalent about Whitman's poetry. He married Amelia Lee Jackson in 1840 and they had three children, including the later Supreme Court judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. For more information, see Julie A. Rechel-White, "Holmes, Oliver Wendell (1809–1894)," (Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, eds. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings [New York: Garland Publishing, 1998], 280). [back]
  • 6. James Russell Lowell (1819–1891) was an American critic, poet and editor of The Atlantic. One of Whitman's famous poetic contemporaries, Lowell was committed to conventional poetic form, which was clearly at odds with Whitman's more experimental form. Still, as editor of the Atlantic Monthly, he published Whitman's "Bardic Symbols," probably at Ralph Waldo Emerson's suggestion. Lowell later wrote a tribute to Abraham Lincoln titled "Commemoration Ode," which has often, since its publication, been contrasted with Whitman's own tribute, "O Captain! My Captain!" For further information on Whitman's views of Lowell, see William A. Pannapacker, "Lowell, James Russell (1819–1891)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998) [back]
Back to top