When he was 22, Stoker read “Leaves of Grass,” Whitman’s poetry collection that would change the young novelist’s life. So enthralled with the American poet was he that Stoker penned a nearly 2,000-word letter to Whitman describing himself and pouring out his love for the poet and his works.
“I have to thank you for many happy hours, for I have read your poems with my door locked late at night, and I have read them on the seashore where I could look all round me and see no more sign of human life than the ships out at sea: and here I often found myself waking up from a reverie with the book lying open before me,” he wrote.
He closed, “I have been more candid with you – have said more about myself to you than I have ever said to any one before.”
That letter began a surprising literary friendship that lasted until Whitman’s death.