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Traubel, Horace

Category: Poet


Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, magazine publisher and author.

He was closely associated with the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States and published a monthly literary magazine called The Conservator from 1890 until the time of his death.

Although a poet of note in his own right, Traubel is best remembered as the literary executor and biographer of his friend, poet Walt Whitman, with whom he transcribed and compiled nine volumes of daily conversations, entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden.

Traubel was Whitman’s intimate friend from very early in his life, and studied him all his life with immense love, right up to Whitman’s death.  Traubel was also a friend of  Upton Sinclair.

Rose Valley

Horace Traubel was, in turn, described as “a brilliant poet of the same school as Walt Whitman”. For some art critics, the disciple's poems compete with those of the Master.

Why is he on the site? 

His poems are worth an entry, but he is included because of what occurred when he was on his death bed.

The rigorously documented account of what happened appeared in the Journal of the American S.P.R. (1921, pages 114-122) and the witnesses noted what had happened immediately after the event, including the main narrator Mrs. Flora Mac Donald Denison, who was present at the death bed and submitted the report to the SPR.



Horace L. Traubel was born in Camden, New Jersey on December 19, 1858, the son of an ethnic Jewish father and an ethnic German mother.

His father, Maurice Traubel, had been born in Germany before emigrating to the United States as a young man, where he settled in Philadelphia and learned the trade of lithography.  Horace was the fifth child of seven born to the couple. He left school at an early age, going to work at the age of 12 as a paperboy before working variously as a printers' assistant, lithographer, cub reporter at a newspaper, and bank clerk. 

Traubel began to write in the late 1880s, specializing in literary criticism and poetry. In 1890 he founded a literary journal, The Conservator, a monthly publication which he continued until the time of his death nearly three decades later. While the publication never attained a mass readership, ‘it was well regarded for its quality and spirit by literary aficionados of the day’.

Traubel married in 1891. He and his wife Anne had two children — a daughter who survived him and a son who died at the age of 5.

The Artsman

During the years 1903 to 1907, Traubel was associated with another literary magazine, The Artsman, which was associated with the Rose Valley Association.


Rose Valley is a small, borough in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States.   The area was settled by Quaker farmers in 1682. 

In 1901 Rose Valley was founded as an Arts and Crafts community by architect Will Price. Price was a follower of Henry George's economics (Georgism). Price also co-founded Arden, Delaware, a utopian single tax community based on Henry George's economic model.   The movement left a legacy of impressive architecture, a preserved landscape, and a regional theatre, the Hedgerow Theatre (founded in 1923), as well as an artistic community that includes writers, painters, and architects.

As a former mayor said, "Rose Valley is an island of non-conformity." The Rose Valley Historic District, covering essentially all of the borough, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

Death and legacy

During his last few years of life Traubel's health failed him. He suffered a stroke in the summer of 1918 which paralyzed his left leg and impacted his vision. That fall he moved with his wife to stay with a friend in Norwich, Connecticut, but there his health became steadily worse.

In April 1919 Traubel moved to New York City staying at the apartment of his biographer, David Karsner. There he suffered a series of debilitating heart attacks from which he never fully recovered.

Although critically weak in his last days, Traubel decided to set out on one last trip at the end of the summer of 1919, setting out for Canada. He died early in September 1919 at Bon Echo, Ontario, near the city of Toronto. He was 60 years old at the time of his death.


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