Letters to Dr John Johnston from Horace Traubel

Scope and Content

Johnston appears to have begun a frequent correspondence with Traubel in 1891. The letters in this series cover a period of just over a year from summer 1891-2, and embrace similar topics and themes as the letters to Wallace, including: Wallace's visit to America in 1891; Traubel's work towards an international movement, and the promotion of democracy and brotherhood; his observations on new books and articles on Whitman; and his own work on the poet. Also included are several letters from early April 1892, revealing Traubel's state of mind and activities in the immediate aftermath of Whitman's death.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dr John Johnston was a G.P. based in Bolton, although he came originally from Annan in Dumfriesshire. He was an old friend of J.W. Wallace, and one of the three founding members of the Bolton 'Eagle Street College'. He, too, was a great admirer of Whitman, corresponded with the poet, and visited him in America in 1890. As well as pursuing his literary interests, Johnston was active in many other spheres of life: he was a leading figure in the medical world of Bolton, frequently addressing meetings on health issues; he acted as an instructor for the St John's Ambulance Brigade and for railway ambulance classes; he worked in military hospitals during the First World War; and he was an enthusiastic cyclist.


Once again, not all the letters are addressed specifically to Johnston, but where internal evidence points to him as the recipient the letters have been included here.