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Walt Whitman to Helen E. Price, 11 April 1888

Dear friend Helen Price

Yours rec'd—Yes, I will sit to Warren Davis2 the painter—w'd like to have it over with in five or six sittings—In May w'd suit me, as far as I see at present—W'd probably accept any time that might suit W D who had better write to me a little in advance—

I am still living here & comfortable & in good spirits enough but probably near the end of my rope—badly paralyzed & do not go out at all, except by being toted—Am real glad to hear from you once more—Wish you had told ab't y'r brother & sister,3 & the latter's children.

Best love & remembrances to you & them—I hear from Dr Bucke4 often—he is well—Still Superintendant in Canada—

Walt Whitman

Helen E. Price (1841–1927) was the daughter of Whitman's close friend, women's rights activist Abby Price. Helen wrote about Whitman's friendship with her mother in a chapter in Richard Maurice Bucke's 1883 biography of the poet and in a 1919 newspaper article. For more on Price, see Sherry Ceniza, "Price, Helen E. (b. 1841)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Miss Helen E. Price | Woodside | Queens county | New York. It is postmarked: Camden (?) | Apr 12 | 4 30 PM | 88; Woodside | Apr | 13 | 188(?) | N.Y. [back]
  • 2. Warren Davis (1865–1928) was an American artist best known for his tempura paintings and his etchings of young women. He studied at the Art Students League in New York, and several of his etchings were used on the covers of magazines, including Vanity Fair and Life. His proposed Whitman painting apparently never materialized. [back]
  • 3. Helen Price had a brother named Arthur (b. 1840), who became an engineer in the U.S. Navy, and a sister named Emily, who married an artist named Law in 1869; Whitman mentions Emily's first baby in a letter to Abby Price on April 21, 1871. A younger brother, Henry (b. 1850), died in infancy. [back]
  • 4. 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). [back]
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