Dinner with Walt

all things Walt Whitman

Dinner with Walt - all things Walt Whitman

The Democracy of Oaks, A Play by Adrian Drew

Gary Richardson as Walt Whitman; Andrew Squires as Edward Carpenter

Gary Richards as Walt Whitman; Andrew Squires as Edward Carpenter. Photo by Adrian Drew.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to write, busy times indeed, but if you caught the previous post on this site about the Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter play, The Democracy of Oaks, by Adrian Drew, I have a few lively and delightful things to share about it.

I was quite fortunate enough to be able to make the trek to London to see the play, and W-O-W! It is brilliant, fantastic and a truly authentic work based upon the lives of these two extraordinary men. Drew’s play is a magnificent piece of wit and wisdom and I hope to see it someday in a full-scale stage production. I’m certain even those in an audience unfamiliar with Whitman and Carpenter would find the experience enjoyable, engaging and highly rewarding!

About a year and half ago, Adrian contacted me from the website shortly after he had written the play and asked if I would like to read it. I have had the very fortunate pleasure to be in contact with Adrian Drew since then and it has been extremely rewarding for me to follow his progress with this play, but to be able to see it in person and afterwards meet the cast, was a truly magnificent experience.

I recall thinking to myself after initially reading the play, how might an actor be able to convincingly portray either of these two dynamic men? I am delighted to share that Mr. Andrew Squires is a brilliant actor who offered a stunning and mesmerizing portrayal of Edward Carpenter. Bravo Andrew for such a captivating and inspiring portrayal of this remarkable and influential man!

As for the part of the American bard, due to accepting a part in an upcoming film, Nigel Barber was not able to play the part of Whitman. Fear not dear fans, Adrian Drew was able to secure another great actor, Gary Richards to play the part of Whitman. Richards delivered a fantastic portrayal of Whitman, having had only a couple weeks prior to the performance to rehearse the deep and dynamic role.

I have to say, I was rather caught by surprise of the feeling of the play, both actors delivered an intensely emotional performance and to—see it and feel it—as it came to life off the written page was extraordinary!

Many thanks to Adrian Drew for allowing me to follow this production from its early days on paper to the big debut—it was an experience I will always treasure!

Andrew Squires, Scott, Adrian Drew

Andrew Squires, Scott, Adrian Drew


The Democracy of Oaks, A Play by Adrian Drew

I am thrilled to announce the exciting new project by playwright Adrian Drew, The Democracy of Oaks. The play highlights the extraordinary lives of two of my favorite men, Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter.

Edward Carpenter, Andrew Squires

Edward Carpenter, Andrew Squires

Walt Whitman, Nigel Barber

Walt Whitman, Nigel Barber













The Democracy of Oaks

A gala showcase production of a new play
by Adrian Drew.

‘Be curious – not judgmental!” – Walt Whitman.

Theatrically compelling. Professor M. Wynn Thomas. Author – The Lunar Light of Whitman’s Poetry.
Fascinating Stuff. A clever piece for two great actors!” Rony Robinson – Writer & Presenter.
A beautifully written moving insight into the lives of two remarkable men.” Dolores Long – Educationalist.

In 1877 young Edward Carpenter from Britain, visited his idol, the legendary poet Walt Whitman at his home in Camden, New Jersey. The outcome was far-reaching indeed for both men – and history too.

Adrian Drew’s memorable theatrical tour de force – showcased tonight for the first time – has recently been published to acclaim. It deals with two fascinating individuals and the complexities of Art and Life, revealing, on route, facts about such contemporaries as Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde, that may surprise many!

The play stars Andrew Squires, (whose work ranges from TV’s Emmerdale to the lead in the feature film The Heretic) as the complex Carpenter, and well-known American actor Nigel Barber (whose many performances on stage & screen from Baywatch and Magnum PI to the new feature film Firequake, have received widespread recognition) as the great Whitman himself.

The Democracy of Oaks is directed by its author Adrian Drew who has written over 20 plays that have been staged on the London fringe and whose festival production of Cocteau’s The Human Voice, and his plays Where Poppies Bloom (about the impact of The Great War on a small Norfolk village), Ellen (about the actress Ellen Terry), The Laws of Shadows ( about ghost story writer M.R. James), and his musical Torch Song, will all be produced over the coming months.

Admission to the Fan Museum for this gala event is £12 and includes wine and light refreshments. This semi-staged rehearsed reading should last approximately 2½ hours including intermission and is only suitable for people over the age of 18.

Friday October 10th 2014
7.30 pm 

 The Fan Museum

12 Crooms Hill. Greenwich,
London SE10 8ER

Theatrical productions at the Museum sell out well in advance so early booking is absolutely essential.

For more information and to make bookings, please call The Fan Museum on 020 8305 1441
or email info@fanmuseum.org.uk


Walt Whitman & Sir William Osler

As I’ve said before, one of many things about Whitman that I love most is the enrichment of the mind born out of studying him, his life and the historic events and people around him in his time. And what a truly historic person I have to share today! But first, please join me in a huge round of applause to my dear friend Ed (a fellow collector of Whitman for some 20+ years!) for the gift of this book; Walt Whitman and Sir William Olser:  A Poet and His Physician, by Philip W. Leon.

For the epigraph of the book the author selects two crowning quotes; one from William Osler and the other from Walt Whitman.  In these quotes, we see the genius in each of these two men as they write about one another:

William Osler on Walt Whitman:

In his 65th year, Walt Whitman was a fine figure of a man who had aged beautifully, or more properly speaking, majestically…I knew nothing of Walt Whitman and had never read a line of his poems – a Scythian visitor at Delphi!

– William Osler, 1919


Walt Whitman on William Osler:

As for Olser:  he is a great man – one of the rare men.  I should be much surprised if he didn’t soar way, way up – get very famous at his trade – someday.  He has the air of something about him – of achievement.

– Walt Whitman, 26 December 1888

Many people, including myself, believe Whitman to be a prophet and this should not be surprising given how right he was about William Osler.

In the late 1800’s, Dr. Osler was already a rising star at McGill University in Montreal and was quickly becoming a prominent Canadian physician. Dr. Osler moved from Montreal to Philadelphia in 1884 at the request of renowned physician Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, where he lived and worked for the next five years. At the urging of his friend and colleague Dr. Maurice Bucke[1]; Dr. Olser crossed the river from Philadelphia to Camden, NJ to offer his assessment of this ailing patient named Walt Whitman. After visiting Whitman, Dr. Osler reported to Dr. Bucke, “After a careful examination, [Dr. Bucke] seemed pleased that I was able to tell him, the machine was in fairly good condition considering the length of time it has been on the road.” (23). Dr. Osler tended to Whitman for the next five years before moving to Baltimore to found the medical school at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Osler is still studied and revered by the medical community, the world over, and is widely considered to be the “Father of Modern Medicine.” In fact, in 1919 as Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, Dr. Osler was the “most famous doctor in the world.” This same year 1919, Dr. Osler wrote his Reminiscences about his relationship with Walt Whitman some thirty years earlier. Unfortunately he died that same year and his manuscript was never published. This book by Philip W. Leon is the first intact publication of Dr. Osler’s Reminiscences, a full 76 years after it was written.

This book is an important historical document about two extraordinary people. I can’t help but to suggest an alternate title for this book:  Two Brilliant Men:  The Father of Modern Medicine meets The Father of Free Verse.

Leon writes:

While their backgrounds differ in significant respects, Whitman and Osler had common interests in literature and medicine. Whitman had a lifelong fascination with medicine, even serving as a wound dresser to injured soldiers on both sides of the conflict during the Civil War.  Osler read widely among the best classical poets, and amassed an impressive personal library of rare editions. Both men exuded personal warmth and attracted disciples who worshipped their masters not only for their accomplishments in their professions but also for themselves and the quality of their lives. Books and articles about both men proliferate, and each of them has achieved a measure of immortality through this scholarly attention, which has continued through to the present. There is a Walt Whitman Association and there are Osler societies worldwide; these groups keep alive the memories of their exemplars.


William Osler 1880-1884 during which time he was visiting the ailing Walt Whitman.

William Osler
1880-1884 during which time he was visiting the ailing Walt Whitman.

[1] Dr. Bucke of course we remember was one of Whitman’s three literary executors and author of Cosmic Consciousness.



Osler image, Wikipedia 

Leon, Philip W. (1995). Walt Whitman & Sir William Osler. Toronto:  ECW Press.




A Scandal Emerges!

<Gasp!> I found a scandalous gem today over at The Walt Whitman Archive!


I’m working on a post about long-time Whitman friend and admirer, Edward Carpenter, which will be posted on his birthday later this month. I needed answers to a few questions and referred to the best source available (The W. W. Archive above) and I stumbled upon something that surprised and shocked me! A sex scandal! Written by Martin Murray in 2005, for the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, this article offers evidence about the perpetually controversial topic of Whitman’s sexuality.







Scholars over the years have had varying opinions in regard to Whitman’s sexuality. Some have even outrageously questioned whether Whitman ever had any sex at all! But the article you are about to read should help stifle any of those lingering doubts about Whitman’s sexuality.


I’m not even going to begin to summarize or put any of this into my own words. In doing so, it would only cloud and cast-doubt upon the story. So instead, I invite you to read it for yourself! So put the kids to bed, dim the lights, put on that old Barry White record gathering dust in your collection…

Here it is, enjoy!


Walt Whitman, Edward Carpenter, Gavin Arthur, and The Circle of Sex.



Walt Whitman Library

Here’s a peek at my ever-growing collection of Walt Whitman (Horace Traubel, Edward Carpenter and John Burroughs) collections.

(Use the scroll buttons below the image for additional photo’s).


Whitman Library

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