Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Kenningale Cook to Walt Whitman, 29 February 1876

Date: February 29, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01330

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.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Eder Jaramillo, Kevin McMullen, John Schwaninger, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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Shorters Court.
Throgmorton St.
London EC.
29 Feby. 1876.

Dear Sir,

The papers say you are engaged upon a complete Edition of your Poems.1 I have been an admirer thereof for some six years, and believe myself to have learned from them.

I have the Rossetti Edition,2 but should like to have the complete one. I enclose a money order for £4.18.0 (somewhere about $20), for an early copy.

I would send you a volume of poems of my own, but they are very juvenile; and I would rather not be known of by them.

Would your health permit you to come to England? My wife & I would both be delighted if you could come and stay with us so long as might suit you. I expect in the spring we shall be resident a few miles out of London.

With our best regards,
Yours faithfully
Kenningale Cook.

Walt Whitman.

Kenningale Robert Cook (1845–1886) was editor of the Dublin University Magazine, and he was married to popular Victorian novelist Mabel Collins (Marion Meade, Madame Blavatsky: The Woman Behind the Myth [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1980], 390). Cook was also the author of The Fathers of Jesus: A Study of the Lineage of the Christian Doctrine and Traditions, 2 vols. (London: K. Paul, Trench & Co., 1886).


1. During America's centennial celebration in 1876, Whitman reissued the fifth edition of Leaves of Grass in the repackaged form of a "Centennial Edition" and "Author's Edition," with most copies personally signed by the poet. For more information, see Frances E. Keuling-Stout, "Leaves of Grass, 1876, Author's Edition," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [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]


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