Title: Walt Whitman to Ernest Rhys, 4 February 1887
Date: February 4, 1887
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:66–67. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: British Museum
Whitman Archive ID: bms.00002
Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock
328 Mickle St
Feb: 4 '87
—Camden New Jersey U S America1
I find that the whole book "Specimen Days & Collect"—as I sent it to you—338 pages (without the Appendix)—makes about as much as y'r "History of King Arthur" Volume2—If you & the publisher prefer to pub. it all in one volume, you can do so.3
Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).
1. This letter is addressed: Ernest Rhys | 59 Cheyne Walk | Chelsea | London England. It is postmarked: Camden | Feb | 4 | 3 PM | 1887 | N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa. | Feb | 4 | 1887 | Paid. [back]
2. The correct title was The Romance of King Arthur. [back]
3. See the letter from Whitman to Ernest Rhys of October 13, 1886. Walt Whitman had sent the copy of Specimen Days on February 2 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). On February 15 Rhys wrote: "I must not decide off-hand about the Specimen Days,—that is, whether to make two vols. as you suggest, or to try & get the whole into one. In the latter case, the book would be rather crowded. . . No! I would not think of putting the copy of Specimen Days with your corrections into the printers' hands and will get copies from Wilson of Glasgow, carefully following all your deletions & so on. It is one of the greatest prizes I possess, & someday a sense of its value will inspire me, I'm afraid, to beg you to send me a copy of Leaves of Grass too with your name in it, (& mine, as proof of ownership,) & some further inscription as well." On January 19 Rhys wrote at length about a kind of epiphany which he had experienced at the seashore; Walt Whitman termed it "a wonderful letter." [back]