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Walt Whitman to Edward Carpenter, 22 March 1887

Dear E.C.,

I thought I would write you a line once more, but no particular news to send. Everything goes on much in the old way (and always has, and always will, I reckon, in this old world).

I am alive, and here, in the same locality, but pretty feeble. Wanted to thank you again, and more specifically, dear E.C., for the help you have so kindly sent me—you and my dear friends the two Misses Ford,1 to whom I send thanks and love.

I have just had my dinner, (buckwheat cakes, and tea, good). I am sitting here in the little front room downstairs writing this. Always love. Write.

Walt Whitman.

Edward Carpenter (1844–1929) was an English writer and Whitman disciple. Like many other young disillusioned Englishmen, he deemed Whitman a prophetic spokesman of an ideal state cemented in the bonds of brotherhood. Carpenter—a socialist philosopher who in his book Civilisation, Its Cause and Cure posited civilization as a "disease" with a lifespan of approximately one thousand years before human society cured itself—became an advocate for same-sex love and a contributing early founder of Britain's Labour Party. On July 12, 1874, he wrote for the first time to Whitman: "Because you have, as it were, given me a ground for the love of men I thank you continually in my heart . . . . For you have made men to be not ashamed of the noblest instinct of their nature." For further discussion of Carpenter, see Arnie Kantrowitz, "Carpenter, Edward [1844–1929]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. Isabella Ford (1855–1924) was an English feminist, socialist, and writer. Elizabeth (Bessie) Ford was her sister. Both were introduced to Whitman's writings by Edward Carpenter and they quickly became admirers of Whitman. [back]
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