Every year the Bolton group celebrated Whitman’s birthday at Wallace’s Bolton home.
Then Wallace moved to the semi-rural village of Adlington near Bolton and the celebrations took on the added joy of walks on the moors, each member wearing a sprig of lilac (Whitman’s favourite flower), reading their favourite Whitman poems and drinking spiced claret from a Loving Cup, a gift from Whitman.
Dr Johnston visited the poet in America in 1890. Johnston also met friends of Whitman’s during his stay, forging long-lasting links between American and Bolton Whitmanites.
Wallace also visited Whitman in 1891 and was greeted by Whitman who joked, “So you’ve come to be disillusioned have you!”.
After the First World War women joined the Bolton group which had been predominantly male. They took an active part in running the group and organising the walks.
As Salveson has pointed out, the First World War devastated the Socialist movement in Britain, many of the prominent activists being killed. By the mid-1950s the Bolton Whitmanite meetings and Birthday Walks had faded away.