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Walt Whitman to Sarah A. Tooley (?), 11 July 1887

I do not object to your quoting the lines within mention'd & hereby give permission—

Walt Whitman

Sarah Anne Southall Tooley (1857–1946) was born in Staffordshire and took classes in literature at London University College. After her 1882 marriage to the minister George W. Tooley, she pursued a career in journalism. She authored numerous biographical sketches and earned a reputation as a talented interviewer who spoke to and wrote about women working in an array of fields, including several women writers and activists. She contributed to fin-de-siècle periodicals such as the Woman's Signal and Woman at Home, and she is the author of The Life of Florence Nightingale (1905) and The History of Nursing in the British Empire (1906), among other works (Terri Doughty, "Representing the Professional Woman: The Celebrity Interviewing of Sarah Tooley," in Women in Journalism at the Fin de Siècle 'Making a Name for Herself', ed. F. Elizabeth Gray [New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012], 165–181).


  • 1. This letter was written on the verso of a letter that reads: ". . . copyright in that country. | May I trouble you for an early reply? I am sorry that there is no way by which I can forward postage for your letter. | Yours truly | Sarah A. Tooley | Messrs Osgood & Co." Since Walt Whitman's letter is not clearly connected to the fragment of Sarah Tooley's, it is impossible to be certain that she was the recipient. Miller proposes this fragment of Tooley's letter was written in September or October 1881 when Whitman was discussing the copyright of the Osgood edition of Leaves of Grass (see Standish James O'Grady's letter to Whitman of October 5, 1881). There are at least two possible explanations: Whitman wrote a draft, an unusual procedure for such a trivial matter, or he wrote a reply on a piece of paper he found in the ever-present litter in his "den." [back]
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