Posted on November 4, 2021 at 2:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of a key piece of writing from Walt Whitman — albeit not one most of us are familiar with.

That piece? A rejection letter.

Anne Gilchrist, a British mother of four, read Whitman’s Leaves of Grass not long after her literary critic husband died.

The poetry enchanted her to the point where she began publishing essays of praise for it — and sending affectionate and effusive letters to him.

And on November 3, 1871, Whitman finally answered one, politely declining her offer of marriage.

Gilchrist continued to write; Whitman, to respond, with what Literary Hub described as obvious reluctance, though the pair eventually became friends after she moved to America.

You can see that rejection letter on the Library of Congress website and read snippets from Gilchrist’s other letters at Lit Hub.

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