Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 13 June 1883

Date: June 13, 1883

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:341–342. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00490

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schoeberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Kirsten Clawson, and Nicole Gray

June 13 '83

My dear friend

The corrections you specified have been or will be made, for future printing—(I wish you would notify me of any others you see also)2—The book is to be published simultaneously here and in London Eng. on the 15th June.3 Typographically, & in get up, binding &c. the experts all pronounce it a success—it is generally taken for an imported book, (if that is any compliment)—the wonder is not that there are a few errors & plate-breakages—but that there are so few—your part looks & is even better than I anticipated from the proofs—more tremendous—the 1883 Letter is vitalest of all—it is like the Old French Revolution of '934—long, long its provocation & reason-why—stands there, something, the only—an immense prologue before it & an immense epilogue after, & it but a speck in the middle between—an exception—but enough, the mark, the inerasable warning, for a thousand years—

The printed notice enclosed is from a scholar & staunch friend—a Yankee litterateur—W. S. K.—if you feel to do so, I wish you would write him a few words—he is worthy—Say that I sent you the criticism—his address is

Wm Sloane Kennedy
Cambridge Mass:5

I am well. Did you see the Critic June 9?6 I saw the Tribune notice.

W. W.


1. This letter is endorsed: "Answ'd June 15/83." It is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service | Treasury | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Philadelphia | Pa. | Jun 13 83 | 6 30 PM; Washington, Recd. | Jun | 14 | 4 30 AM | 1883 | 2. [back]

2. Apparently a reference to the errors cited in O'Connor's letter of May 23 (Oscar Lion Collection, New York Public Library). Whitman did not allude to Jeannie's death which O'Connor reported in the same letter (see the letter from Whitman to O'Connor of March 11, 1883). However, O'Connor on May 14 informed Richard Maurice Bucke of the details of his daughter's death and of "a bad attack of inflammatory rheumatism," which incapacitated him for the rest of the year (The Library of Congress, Washington D.C.). [back]

3. The book was published on June 15 in London and on June 20 in Philadelphia (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; see also the letter from Whitman to O'Connor of June 18, 1883). [back]

4. In a letter of June 15, O'Connor considered Whitman's comparison "magnificent and happy" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1953], 4:162). [back]

5. On June 15 O'Connor promised to write to William Sloane Kennedy as soon as his hand healed. [back]

6. The June 9 issue of The Critic contained a review of Bucke's book. [back]


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