Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John W. Cook to Walt Whitman, 9 February 1890

Date: February 9, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00135

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University . Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Related item: On the verso of this letter, Whitman drafted a passage of the essay titled "Shakespeare for America" that compares "The Old World (Europe and Asia)" and "the New World (America)."

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ian Faith, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

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Normal, Ill.,
Feb. 9, 90.

Walt Whitman
Camden, N.J.
Dear Sir:

I have this day rec'd your Complete Poems & Prose1 by mail.

Will you kindly favor me with a bill of the same? I shall be most happy to remit by return mail.

Yours very respectfully,
John W. Cook

After graduating from Illinois State Normal University (now Illinois State University), John Williston Cook (1844–1922) taught history and math, among other subjects, at his alma mater. In 1890, he became the fourth president of Illinois State Normal University, and he went on to become the first president of Illinois State Normal School in Dekalb, a position he held until his retirement, three years before his death.


1. Whitman's Complete Poems & Prose (1888), a volume Whitman often referred to as the "big book," was published by the poet himself—in an arrangement with publisher David McKay, who allowed Whitman to use the plates for both Leaves of Grass and Specimen Days—in December 1888. With the help of Horace Traubel, Whitman made the presswork and binding decisions for the volume. Frederick Oldach bound the book, which included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]


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