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Walt Whitman to Ellen M. O'Connor, 20 October 1865

Dear friend,2

Your letter came right—& was glad to hear from you, Nelly, & Charles Eldridge & dear little Jeannie—(I will not add William because I did not hear any thing about him.)3

Nelly, the skies are brighter here than when I wrote you last. Little sis is so much better, that she has been twice brought down here to the front basement, & has in every respect improved much since last Saturday—Then my mother arrived home last Tuesday—and now it looks something like home in reality—I am quite well—

Drum Taps will be bound (a small edition) before you get this—& will next week be put in the hands of a New York publisher & launched on the market—at least that's my design at present4

When you write tell me all about William—My mother returns bringing cheerful intelligence upon the whole—& is herself in splendid condition—havn't seen her look & apparently feel better in many years—My brother George (or did I tell you?) is working again at his trade & has grand health—Love & Farewell—



  • 1. The letter is endorsed, "Ans'd."  It is addressed: Mrs. E. M. O'Connor, | 326 H st. near Vermont av. | Washington | D. C. It is postmarked: New York | Oct | 20. [back]
  • 2. For a time Whitman lived with William D. and Ellen O'Connor, who, with Eldridge and later Burroughs, were to be his close associates during the early Washington years. William D. O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of Harrington, an abolition novel published by Thayer & Eldridge in 1860. Ellen "Nelly" O'Connor, William's wife, had a close personal relationship with Whitman. In 1872 Whitman would walk out on a debate with William over the Fifteenth Amendment, which Whitman opposed and O'Connor supported. Ellen defended Whitman's opinion, and in response William established a separate residence. The correspondence between Whitman and Ellen is almost as voluminous as the poet's correspondence with William. For more on Whitman's relationship with the O'Connors see O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889). [back]
  • 3. William's letter of October 19, 1865, from New Ipswich, N. H., had not reached Whitman. [back]
  • 4. Announcements of the publication of Drum-Taps by Bunce & Henry E. Huntington appeared in the New York Tribune of October 28, 1865, and in The Round Table of November 4. The Sequel was printed by Gibson Brothers of Washington, who issued a receipt to Whitman on October 2 for 1,000 copies (Charles E. Feinberg Collection; Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–69], xlviii). On September 20, 1865, Abraham Simpson acknowledged $50 paid on account for binding 300 copies, and he billed Whitman for 500 copies on November 1 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection). [back]
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