Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Jeannette L. Gilder to Walt Whitman, 2 January 1876

Date: January 2, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03536

Source: The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, 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, John Schwaninger, Caterina Bernardini, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock

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Jan. 2, 1876

My dear Mr. Whitman;

Many thanks for your letter,1 & the promise of an early copy of your book.2

Enclosed please find what I made of your facts for the New York Herald of this date.

Faithfully yours
Jeannette L. Gilder3

Mr. Walt Whitman
Camden N.J.



We learn that early in the new year Walt Whitman will issue a small edition of his complete works in two volumes. "Leaves of Grass" will be one. The other, "Two Rivulets," alternations of prose and verse; the themes about as diverse as they can be—poetry, politics, the war, &c. Mr. Whitman kept a diary from 1862 to 1865 of scenes in Virginia, Washington; and the hospital, camps, battles, are given almost verbatim. A great part of "Two Rivulets," prose and poetry, is fresh matter, hitherto unpublished. Mr. Whitman will publish and sell his book himself. We are sorry to say that the health and strength of this poet are probably irrecoverable. His mind, however, is as brilliant as ever, and his spirits good. He is poor in purse, but not in actual want. He will probably end his days with his brother4 in Camden.

Jeannette Leonard Gilder (1849–1916) helped her brother, Richard Watson Gilder (1844–1909), edit Scribner's Monthly and then, with another brother, Joseph Benson Gilder (1858–1936), co-edited the Critic (which she co-founded in 1881). For more, see Susan L. Roberson, "Gilder, Jeannette L. (1849–1916)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. See Whitman's letter to Gilder of December 30, 1875. [back]

2. During the centennial celebration of the U.S. 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. Two Rivulets was published as a companion volume to the book. Notable for its experimentations in form, typography, and printing convention, Whitman's two-volume set marks an important departure from previous publications of Leaves of Grass. For more information, see Frances E. Keuling-Stout, " Leaves of Grass, 1876, Author's Edition," "Two Rivulets, Author's Edition [1876]," and "Preface to Two Rivulets [1876]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Gilder included a short notice titled "Literary Chit-Chat" that she wrote for the New York Herald, in which she details the upcoming publication of Whitman's Leaves of Grass and Two Rivulets in 1876. The notice quotes heavily from Whitman's December 30, 1875, letter to Gilder. [back]

4. George Washington Whitman (1829–1901) was Walt's brother and the sixth child of Louisa Van Velsor Whitman. He was ten years Walt Whitman's junior. For more information on George Washington Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Whitman, George Washington," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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