Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: James R. Osgood & Company to Walt Whitman, 20 March 1882

Date: March 20, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05363

Source: The location of this manuscript is unknown. The transcription presented here is derived from The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman, ed. Richard Maurice Bucke and Thomas B. Harned (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902), 8:292. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, Stefan Schöberlein, and Elizabeth Lorang

Please read1 the enclosed from Doctor Bucke2 and return it with the expression of your wishes in the matter. We do not know whether the book would appeal to us commercially, but we of course prefer not to look at it without first being sure that it meets your approval. We are waiting for an official indication in the matter of revisions.

James R. Osgood (1836–1892) agreed to publish Whitman's Leaves of Grass in 1881, but the firm stopped publication after Whitman refused to comply with the Boston district attorney, who had written to the publisher demanding some poems and passages removed. Osgood was also the publisher of Browning, Arnold, Holmes, Henry James, and Howells; see Carl J. Weber, The Rise and Fall of James Ripley Osgood (1959).


1. This is a partial transcription of this letter. The complete letter has not been located. [back]

2. Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]


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