Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Henry Buxton Forman to Walt Whitman, 21 February 1872

Date: February 21, 1872

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01619

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, "H Buxton Forman," and "Feb 21 '72," are in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "see notes Sept 3 & 5 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

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

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38 Marlborough Hill
St John's Wood
London, N.W.
21 Feb. 72

Dear Sir,

I send herewith, by book post, a short poem called "The Great Peace–Maker," which I have just edited for private distribution.1

As a constant reader and great admirer of your poetry, I have had the idea that the practical element in this poem, and also its fervent aspiration after the good of mankind, may commend themselves to you,—while a poem more like the rest of our contemporary verse might not.

Believe me to be
dear sir
faithfully yours,
H. Buxton Forman

Walt Whitman Esq

P. S. I have been a long time trying to persuade one or another of our publishers to print a complete English edition of your works—verbatim, without any retrenchments; and I have gone so far as to offer my poor services in justifying, as far as criticism can justify poetry, those portions which they take exception to, or fear to print. Supposing I ultimately succeeded, would a verbatim reprint of the latest edition, with an introductory essay, have your approval?

Henry Buxton Forman (1842–1917), also known as Harry Buxton Forman, was most notably the biographer and editor of Percy Shelley and John Keats. On February 21, 1872, Buxton sent a copy of R. H. Horne's The Great Peace-Maker: A Sub-marine Dialogue (London, 1872) to Whitman. This poetic account of the laying of the Atlantic cable has a foreword written by Forman. After his death, Forman's reputation declined primarily because, in 1934, booksellers Graham Pollard and John Carter published An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets, which exposed Forman as a forger of many first "private" editions of poetry.


1. Conway is refering to R. H. Horne's The Great Peace-Maker: A Sub-marine Dialogue (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Low, & Searle, 1872). This poetic account of the laying of the Atlantic cable has a foreword written by Forman. [back]


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