Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: The Editors of the Atlantic Monthly to Walt Whitman, 10 October 1861

Date: October 10, 1861

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00585

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1908), 2:213. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Nick Krauter, and Nicole Gray

Oct. 10, 1861. MR. WALT WHITMAN—

Dear Sir:—We beg to inclose to your address, in two envelopes, the three poems with which you have favored us, but which we could not possibly use before their interest,—which is of the present,—would have passed. Thanking you for your attention,

We are, Very truly yours,


1. James Russell Lowell had been the editor at the Atlantic Monthly when Whitman published there in 1860. Unbeknownst to Whitman, however, James T. Fields, partner in the Atlantic's publisher Ticknor & Fields, took over the editorship of the magazine in May 1861 as a cost-saving measure. The Atlantic did not publish a list of its editors, and Whitman was not the only writer to submit to Lowell in error. On October 8, Lowell wrote to Fields promising some of his own work soon and enclosing "an article by Mr. S. A. Eliot—and three [poems] from Walt Whitman. '1861' he says is $20. the others $8. each." Two days later, Whitman received an impersonal reply—signed only "Editors of the Atlantic Monthly"—returning "the three poems with which you have favored us, but which we could not possibly use before their interest,-—which is of the present,—would have passed." [back]


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