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Walt Whitman to Anne Gilchrist, 19 October 1875

Dear Mrs. Gilchrist1,

Let me send this to introduce a call from J. B. Marvin, a valued friend of mine2—a Yankee born & bred—democratic, literary, married—now briefly visiting London on business.

I still continue here laid up, but working a very little.

Your kind letters received, & welcomed. I was indeed interested in the account of the closing days of your dear mother3—surely a calm & beautiful death after a calm & beautiful life.

Best love, dear friend, to you & to your children.

Walt Whitman4


  • 1. 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). [back]
  • 2. In a letter dated November 16–30, 1875, Gilchrist referred to a pleasant visit with Marvin, who had gone to England on official business (see Whitman's December 16, 1875 letter to John Burroughs). On December 23, 1875, William Michael Rossetti described to Walt Whitman a dinner he gave for Marvin which was attended by the following "good Whitmanites": Gilchrist; Joseph Knight, editor of the London Sunday Times; Justin McCarthy, a novelist and writer for the London Daily News; Edmund Gosse; and Rossetti's father-in-law, Ford Madox Brown. [back]
  • 3. See Gilchrist's letter of August 28, 1875. [back]
  • 4. Fearful after reading a printed account in which Conway reported that Walt Whitman had given up hope of recovery, on December 4, 1875, Gilchrist implored: "Dont give up that hope, for the sake of those that so tenderly passionately love you." She promised to come to America as soon as Percy was married. Meanwhile, on October 19, 1875, Gilchrist had written to Burroughs to inform him that Walt Whitman's English admirers were preparing "some tangible embodiment however inadequate" to relieve the poet's financial needs (Boston Public Library; Clifton Joseph Furness, Walt Whitman's Workshop 1928, 244). [back]
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