Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William Michael Rossetti to Walt Whitman, 6 October 1885

Date: October 6, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03607

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 note: The annotation, "from W M Rossetti 6 Oct. '85 | enclosing p o order £37.12," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Stefan Schöberlein, Ian Faith, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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6 Octr./85.

Dear Whitman,

As announced the other day, I have now the pleasure of enclosing Post-Office orders for £37.12.

It escaped me to mention in my previous letter that a Mr. Ernest Rhys1 not heretofore known to me (59 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London) called on me 2 or 3 weeks ago, wishing to obtain your address—wh. I gave him. He intended, as I understood, to write to you with a view to entering into some terms regarding a London edition of your Poems. He seemed to me to have a genuine feeling of regard for yourself & your works, & he asked me to convey to you an expression of his feeling when next I shd write.

Yours always,
W. M. Rossetti.

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 Frederick 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).


1. Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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