Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Roberts Brothers, 17 September 1871

Date: September 17, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01699

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 Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 2:139. 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, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, and Nicole Gray

Department of Justice
sent Sept. 17,

I send herewith the copy of my American Institute Poem. It will be plain sailing, if you have a careful printer & proof reader.1 I think an ordinary 12 mo would be best, and send you a sample, my idea of size of page, and sort of pamphlet-volume to be made. As to size of type for the poem, if English solid would not be too large, I would like to have that. If you think it too large, take the next smaller size. In binding let the edges remain uncut, & bind in the kind of paper according to sample. See sample of title on cover. Send the revised proofs to me by mail, directed to this city, and I will promptly return them.

My percentage &c. I leave to you to fix—I should expect two or three dozen copies. I reserve the copyright to myself.

That the papers have freely printed & criticized the piece will much help, as it awakes interest & curiosity, & many will want to have it in good form to keep. The demand will grow. I have no authority to speak for them, but I think the American Institute will want several hundred copies, & that the pamphlet will have a sale at all their public Exhibitions & Fairs. They always have book stands at them.

It ought to be put in hand immediately, & out soon.


1. The Roberts Brothers firm was established in Boston in 1863. Though it introduced such authors as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Joaquin Miller, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Emily Dickinson, it became famous for the works of Louisa May Alcott. After All, Not to Create Only was the only work of Walt Whitman that the firm published. It has been suggested that Bronson Alcott persuaded Roberts to undertake the work; see Raymond L. Kilgour, Messrs. Roberts Brothers, Publishers (1952), 107. The house merged with Little, Brown and Co. in 1898. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.