The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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24th December 2003 - George William Whistler

Whistler received some sad news on 24 December 1869, in the form of a telegram:

"George died very early this morning[.] break the news gently to your mother"

(GUL MS Whistler L16)

George William Whistler was the son of George Washington Whistler (James Whistler's father) in his first marriage (to Mary Roberdeau Swift). George William followed in his father's footsteps as a railway engineer, and worked on railroads in the USA and Russia.

It was George William who once wrote the following to his artist half-brother (in August 1868):

"Nobody can indulge in the style of letter writing you permit yourself without coming to grief - It is a very serious thing my dear Jim that you are afflicted with this mania - you will have to correct it to succeed in life -"

(GUL MS Whistler W678)

As it turned out on this occasion George William was wrong; James was to prove a success in life despite the numerous 'manic' letters he posted to family, friends, enemies and critics throughout the years.