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Walt Whitman to Anne Gilchrist, 20 April 1884

Yours of April 5th just recd, & very much welcomed2—Some how it is a special comfort—I have not been well as usual for two months but am now better & shall soon be ab't as of late years—I have moved into a little old shanty of my own—(See new address above)—am much more contented—am writing this impromptu at P.O. so you will get it at once. Will write more fully soon—best love—


Anne Burrows Gilchrist (1828–1885) was the author of one of the first significant pieces of criticism on Leaves of Grass, titled "A Woman's Estimate of Walt Whitman (From Late Letters by an English Lady to W. M. Rossetti)," The Radical 7 (May 1870), 345–59. Gilchrist's long correspondence with Whitman indicates that she had fallen in love with the poet after reading his work; when the pair met in 1876 when she moved to Philadelphia, Whitman never fully returned her affection, although their friendship deepened after that meeting. For more information on their relationship, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Anne Burrows (1828–1885)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Mrs: Anne Gilchrist | 12 Well Road— Hampstead | London England. It is postmarked: Camden | Apr | 21 | 7 AM | 1884 | N.J. [back]
  • 2. In her letter of April 5, 1884, Anne Gilchrist mentioned "wistful thoughts" that, "were not I & mine bound here by unseverable ties, . . . could I make America my home for the sake of being near you in body as I am in heart & soul—but Time has good things in store for us sooner or later." She also wrote on May 2, August 5, October 26, and December 17. [back]
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