Oscar Wilde’s Letter to Walt Whitman

Partial transcript from The Library of Congress:

Before I leave America I must see you again–there is no one in this wide great world of America whom I love and honour so much. With warm affection, and honourable admiration, Oscar Wilde.

The Walt Whitman Archive fleshes out the story:

On 18 January 1882 Wilde visited Walt Whitman in Camden, where the poet was then living with his brother and sister-in-law. Wilde told Whitman that his mother had purchased a copy of Leaves of Grass when it was first published, that Lady Wilde had read the poems to her son, and that later, at Oxford, he and his friends carried Leaves to read on their walks. Flattered, Whitman offered Wilde, whom he later described as “a fine large handsome youngster,” some of his sister-in-law’s homemade elderberry wine, and they conversed for two hours. Asked later by a friend how he managed to get the elderberry wine down, Wilde replied: “If it had been vinegar I would have drunk it all the same, for I have an admiration for that man which I can hardly express”


  1. Page Pulp · April 12, 2012

    Oh how I would dearly love to have been around for that drinking session! Thanks for relating that story, it made me smile.


  2. Pingback: Walt Whitman Moments | Inspired Vision
  3. Oscarwildefanclub · April 12, 2012

    Did this meeting with Walt Whitman on jan 18th 1882 not occur in America?


  4. Pingback: Summer Reading (Book 2) – Walt Whitman’s America « Real Poetry
  5. John Cooper · April 12, 2012

    Indeed, it was in Camden NJ, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

    Wilde met Whitman again on May 10th. A journal entry by Charles Godfrey Leland attests that Wilde, lecturing for a second time in Philadelphia, had just returned from ‘an hour at the feet’ of Whitman. For details see notes down the page at:


    • Biblioklept · April 12, 2012

      Thanks…to clarify, the copy in this post is not mine, but rather quoted from the image source.


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