Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William Livingston Alden to Walt Whitman, 9 August 1867

Date: August 9, 1867

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01064

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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.

Editorial notes: The annotations, "Mr. Alden.," "N.Y. Citizen," "Aug. 9 '67.," and "ans.," are in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "see notes Dec 7 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Beverley Rilett, Ashley Lawson, Nima Najafi Kianfar, John Schwaninger, Amanda J. Axley, Cristin Noonan, Paige Wilkinson, and Stephanie Blalock

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Terms of the Paper,
$5.00 PER YEAR.
August 9 18671

Friend Whitman,

I publish in tomorrow's Citizen, Rosetti's 2 article3 from the Chronicle. I congratulate you on the article.4 It will wake people up.

I wish you could send me a copy of your book—a thing which I don't possess. I will mail you a copy of tomorrow's paper.

Very respectfully yours
W. L. Alden
(Associate Editor)

William Livingston Alden (1837–1908) was an editorial writer for and associate editor of the New York Citizen. He studied law in the office of William M. Evarts, who served as the 29th United States Attorney General. Alden practiced law for five years and then wrote for a number of magazines, including Scribner's and the Atlantic, before writing for New York City newspapers, among them the World, Graphic, and the Times. Alden served as U.S. consul-general in Rome between 1885 and 1890, and then lived in Paris until 1893, where he wrote for the Paris edition of the New York Herald. He later moved to London.


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Washington, | D.C. It is postmarked: NEW-YORK | AUG | 9; CARRIER | AUG | 10 | [1867]. [back]

2. William Michael Rossetti (1829–1915), brother of Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, was an English editor and a champion of Whitman's work. In 1868, Rossetti edited Whitman's Poems, selected from the 1867 Leaves of Grass. Whitman referred to Rossetti's edition as a "horrible dismemberment of my book" in his August 12, 1871, letter to Frederick S. Ellis. Nonetheless, the edition provided a major boost to Whitman's reputation, and Rossetti would remain a staunch supporter for the rest of Whitman's life, drawing in subscribers to the 1876 Leaves of Grass and fundraising for Whitman in England. For more on Whitman's relationship with Rossetti, see Sherwood Smith, "Rossetti, William Michael (1829–1915)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. No copies of the Citizen prior to 1869 have survived, but Whitman appears to have read and enjoyed the article. [back]

4. The writer of the Citzen article was likely Charles G. Halpine. Whitman alluded to this fact in his August 10, 1867, letter to William Livingston Alden when he noted to the sender "Accept—for yourself, the Citizen, & Gen. Halpine." Charles G. Halpine (1829–1868) was a journalist, soldier, and politician. He joined the 69th New York Regiment at the outbreak of the war and was brevetted brigadier general for gallantry. Known as a humorist and author, under the pseudonym Pvt. Miles O'Reilley, Halpine was also a well-known journalist who wrote for the New York Herald, and later became editor of The Leader. It would appear that, in 1867, Halpine was writing for the Citizen[back]


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