Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Herbert Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 30 November 1880

Date: November 30, 1880

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04050

Source: The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, ed. Thomas B. Harned (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1918), 195–196. 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, and Nicole Gray

Keats Corner, England
12 Well Road, Hampstead, London
November 30th, 1880.

My Dear Walt:

Your postcard came to hand some little time ago.1 I was pleased to get it, to hear of your being well, & with your friends. I have been extremely busy seeing after the new edition of my father's book;2 the work of seeing such a richly illustrated "edition de luxe" through the press was enormous, but it is done! The binders are now doing their work, & next Tuesday the reviewers will be doing theirs—I defy them to find any fault with the book. I dare say you think it "tall" talk, but I think that it is the most perfectly gotten up book that I ever have seen. My mother has written an admirable memoir of my father at the end of the second vol.

(Pen sketch of a butterfly)

I thought that this was to be the title of your prose volume. I will undertake the illustrations, choosing the paper (hand made), everything except the expense of reproducing, etc. I should say London is the place to have things executed in: if you wish to give photos they must be drawn by an artist and reproduced; no photo ever looked well in a book yet! they haven't decorative importance and don't blend with type. I should suggest that we should imitate the artistic size & style of your earliest edition of "Leaves of G.," a large, thin, flat volume, a fanciful, but as inexpensive as possible, cover written in gold on blue, a waterlily say: but I could think this over. I will design fanciful tailpieces to be woven in with the text; as a frontispiece the drawing that I gave you, retouched by me, and reproduced by the Typographic Etching Company, 23 Farringdon street, London, E. C. All these are only suggestions, which I am prepared to execute in right earnest thought. I read your letter to mother with interest. We like our new house so much, & I am sure that you would. You must come and stay with us & stroll on Hampstead Heath, & ride down into London upon an omnibus & sit to some good sculptor here in London (Boem say). And you yourself could make arrangements with the publishers. With remembrance to friends,

Herbert H. Gilchrist.


1. Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. The second edition of Alexander Gilchrist's The Life of William Blake (London: Macmillan and Co., 1880). [back]


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