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About this Item

Title: Cope's Tobacco Plant

Creator: Susan Belasco

Publication information: Written for the Walt Whitman Archive. First published on the Archive in 2008.

Whitman Archive ID: per.00101

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Susan Belasco, and Kevin McMullen


Whitman probably was not aware of his first connection with Cope's Tobacco Plant, an English trade magazine published by the tobacco firm of Cope Brothers and Company in Liverpool, England. Edited by John Fraser, who was in charge of advertising for the company, the magazine was published from March 30, 1870 through January 1881, when it suddenly ceased publication. The January 1872 issue carried a series of poems about the pleasures of tobacco and smoking in the style of famous poets; one, falsely attributed to Whitman, was clearly meant to be a joke. The author of the poem is unknown. Although there is no record of what happened next, Fraser, an admirer of Whitman, evidently then invited the poet to submit some of his actual work. Whitman obliged by sending "Three Young Men's Deaths." That prose piece, which later appeared in Specimen Days, was published in April 1879, and in a letter to Fraser on November 27, 1878, Whitman asked for copies of the magazine to be sent to several British poets and writers, including William Rossetti and Tennyson. In the meantime, the British writer James Thomson published a series of five biographical essays on Whitman in the magazine throughout 1880. No correspondence survives that explains the appearance of Whitman's next contribution to Cope's, "The Dalliance of the Eagles," which appeared in November 1880 and for which he received payment of $10.00.

Bibliography

Altick, Richard D. "Cope's Tobacco Plant: An Episode in Victorian Journalism." The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 45 (1951): 333-350.

Barrus, Clara. Whitman and Burroughs, Comrades. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1931.

Myerson, Joel. Walt Whitman: A Descriptive Bibliography. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993.

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass: Comprehensive Reader's Edition. Edited by Harold W. Blodgett and Sculley Bradley. New York: New York University Press, 1965.

Whitman, Walt. Daybooks and Notebooks. Edited by William White. Vol. 1. New York: New York University Press, 1978.

Poems

"The Dalliance of the Eagles." Cope's Tobacco Plant, November 1880, 552


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