Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William J. Linton to Walt Whitman, 21 August 1875

Date: August 21, 1875

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01803

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 annotation, "see notes Aug 26 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Related item: Whitman drafted his response to this letter at the bottom of the back side of the page. See loc.02825.

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

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Box 1188
New Haven Conn.
Aug: 21, 1875

My dear Whitman:

First—how are you getting on? Second (like a woman's postscript) have I told you at any time that I have been & am preparing a vol: of Amer: poetry, [up to] your Centennial,1 for English publication? I would like, if I may, to use as frontispiece your head, which will not hurt your fame on the other side; & 3000 miles off will not, I think, interfere with the appearance of the same head here with those new things which I want to use. May I use it? Say honestly yes or no, as you feel. I do not want to do what you might not like, whether in matter of interest or feeling. But I can have nothing I should like so well.

I wish you were here now that the storms seem over. We have had such a spell of bad weather as I have never before been treated to by U.S.

Yours always
WJ Linton

William J. Linton (1812–1897), a British-born wood engraver, came to the United States in 1866 and settled near New Haven, Connecticut. He illustrated the works of John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, and others, wrote the "indispensable" History of Wood-Engraving in America (1882), and edited Poetry of America, 1776–1876 (London, 1878), in which appeared eight of Whitman's poems as well as a frontispiece engraving of the poet. According to his Threescore and Ten Years, 1820 to 1890—Recollections (1894), 216–217, Linton met with Whitman in Washington and later visited him in Camden (which Whitman reported in his November 9, 1873, letter to Peter Doyle): "I liked the man much, a fine-natured, good-hearted, big fellow, . . . a true poet who could not write poetry, much of wilfulness accounting for his neglect of form."


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]


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