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Walt Whitman to Henry Norman, 3 January 1887


Your kind letter of Dec. 23, with the £81 over, has safely reached me.1 I thank you, dear Pall Mall Gazette, & deeply thank the donors of the gift2—It is accepted, I am sure, in the same spirit in which it is conveyed—And I must add that (while I am not at all in actual want, and have generous and attentive friends here) a money aid like this comes most opportunely to me under the circumstances, and helps "keep the wolf from the door" indeed.

I am almost entirely physically disabled, but remain in good spirits and fairish health. Almost every week I write a little for pay and publication. Winter is at its height and bitter cold here now, the earth hard and covered with ice and snow, as I sit by my window well blanketed, writing this offhand letter of acknowledgement.

God bless my British friends assisters—(from the first they have come in when most wanted)—

Walt Whitman

Sir Henry Norman (1858–1939) was a writer and liberal politican from England. After moving to the United States to study at Harvard, he wrote for the Pall Mall Gazette and the News Chronicle.


  • 1. The letter is not extant. [back]
  • 2. According to Whitman's Commonplace Book (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.) the amount was £81.6.6 ($393.61), which Walt Whitman deposited in the bank on January 11. Norman was acting for the editor of the newspaper, William T. Stead (1849-1912); see American Literature, XXXIII (1961), 68-69, and also the letter from Whitman to William T. Stead, August 17, 1887. On February 3 Norman protested to Whitman the citation in the Philadelphia Press of the names of three donors: Sir Edward Malet, the English ambassador in Berlin; Lord Ronald Gower; and A. Gerstenberg. Pall Mall Gazette devoted a great deal of space to Whitman in 1887: January 10, excerpts from "My Book and I"; January 20, lengthy extracts from "A Word about Tennyson"; April 27, a quotation from Whitman's "Additional Note" for the English edition of Specimen Days; May 6, an excerpt from a private correspondent about gifts of Americans to Walt Whitman (see 1597); June 2, an account of Walt Whitman's birthday with quotations from the Daily News; July 9, "The Dying Veteran"; July 30, a summary of Swinburne's attack upon Walt Whitman; August 3, 4, 6, and 11, comment, editorial and personal, on Swinburne's article; September 6, a defense of the American poet. In addition, letters from Walt Whitman were reproduced on January 25 and August 30 (see the letter from Whitman to Stead of August 17, 1887). The endorsement of the draft letter (Clifton Waller Barrett Literary Manuscripts Collection, University of Virginia) reads: "Sent to Henry Norman | Pall Mall Gazette | London | Jan 3 '87." [back]
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