Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: John H. Ingram to Walt Whitman, 1 August 1880

Date: August 1, 1880

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02358

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: Alicia Bones, Eder Jaramillo, Grace Thomas, Nicole Gray, and Stefan Schöberlein

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Engineer in Chief's Office, General Post Office,
London, England.

Dear Whitman,—

If you will permit me to address you thus2—for some time past I have been collecting Tales, and other prose sketches by you, and now want to edit them for a vol., if you see no objection? I need scarcely remark that you should receive a fair (—so far as publishers' fairness goes—) remuneration for the vol. If you do not disapprove of the project, perhaps, you would not mind cooperating with me in the production of the work, by pointing out the essays you wish rejected, revised, or included? Will you let me know your views? My name is known to your friend Mr. O'Connor,3 of Washington, and, personally, I am well known to Mr. W.M. Rossetti,4 through whom I had the pleasure of subscribing for the "Two Rivulets." If you thought well of the idea you might like to take a part payment in sheets, or bound copies, from the publishers? I would edit the work for England and prefix a short essay.

I enclose prospectus of my Editions of Poe's works. I have just published a new vindication "Memoir of Poe" in 2 vols. and am always desirous of gathering up information about him: Can you help me? Have you copies of any any correspondence with him you would permit me to see, or anything about him, or any reminiscences? He published some remarks of yours on "Music" in his Broadway Journal; with a few words of approval, in 1845.5 You may, therefore, have known him.

Have you had a good portrait of yourself etched, engraved, or made in any permanent form? If so, will you kindly favour me with a copy—will you kindly say cost & will forward it you need not send till you get the money—or, if not any of this class, will you kindly send me another photo like that in the "Two Rivulets"? Only not mounted as I want it for mounting in my own fashion, safest way of sending is round a small wooden roller. Hoping your recent travel has done your health good, and to hear from you speedily,

I am, Faithfully yours,
John H. Ingram

To Walt Whitman,
Camden, N.J.
U.S. of A.


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esqre | London | Ontario | Canada. It is postmarked: LONDON [illegible] | 6 | AUG | 80. NEW YORK | AUG | 16. CAMDEN | AUG | 19 | 7A.M. | N.J. LONDON | AU 20 | 80. The letter was originally addressed to Camden, New Jersey, | United States of America and was forwarded to London, Ontario. Whitman was spending the summer in Canada with his friend Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke. [back]

2. John Henry Ingram (1842–1916), an English editor, collector, and biographer, wrote several memoirs about Edgar Allan Poe, largely in opposition to a Poe memoir written in 1850 by Rufus W. Griswold, which Ingram believed was filled with lies. Ingram also wrote critical studies of Thomas Chatterton and Christopher Marlowe. For more on Ingram, see John Carl Miller, "John Henry Ingram: Editor, Biographer, and Collector of Poe Materials," in A Guide to John Henry Ingram's Poe Collection at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 2007). [back]

3. William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet "The Good Gray Poet," published in 1866 (a digital version of the pamphlet is available at "The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication"). For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

4. 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 F.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]

5. Whitman's piece was entitled "Art-Singing and Heart-Singing" and was published on November 29, 1845, in the Broadway Journal, which was then edited by Poe. The article argued for an American music which would distance itself from European influences. [back]


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