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Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 20 March 1883


Have the "Plate Proofs" to page 18 have gone over them, they are all right. I suppose you do not want these proofs back? So I keep them. Hope you will not fail to rearrange pages, pictures, &c as per last proofs returned & letter.2 You said in letter of 14th3 that 1st batch of proof of pt​ ii would be sent on 15th I have seen nothing of it so far, hope there is no hitch4

R M B.  loc_es.00179.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 postal card is addressed: Walt Whitman | 431 Stevens Street | Camden | New Jersey | U.S.A. It is postmarked: CAMDEN, N.J. | MAR | 22 | 2 PM | RECD.; LONDON | PM | MR 20 | 83 | CANADA. [back]
  • 2. See the letter from Bucke to Whitman of March 18, 1883. [back]
  • 3. Whitman's letter to Bucke of March 14, 1883, is listed among the lost letters (The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 3:438). On March 14, 1883, Whitman wrote to William D. O'Connor: "Dr B[ucke]'s book is half in type." [back]
  • 4. Whitman made the following entry in his Commonplace Book: "March 15 to 31—printing, proof reading &c. Dr. B's book proofs to Dr B at London, Canada, & to Wm O'Connor at Providence RI Dr Bucke's Book" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
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