Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Thomas W. H. Rolleston, [20 August 1884]

Date: August 20, 1884

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05824

Source: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:375. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: The annotation, "Aug 20 '84 Sent Rolleston | 28 Terrassen Ufer Dresden Saxony.," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

Two or three little matters I will write to you about.1 How is the publication of the German version getting on? My guess would be that when fairly afloat it might have quite as much sale here in the United States as in Germany—perhaps more. Would of course require a little while to get bruited about—but then I think quite probable a steady demand would set in. Two or three central book jobbing houses should be fixed upon, one in New York, one in Chicago, & one in San Francisco—

With an eye to this I would like early copies sent to

Wm Sloane Kennedy, Belmont, Mass:
J L & J B Gilder, Critic office, 18 Astor Place New York City
Prof. Edward Dowden, Temple Road Winstead Rathmine's, Dublin Ireland
Talcott Williams, Daily Press cor 7th & Chestnut Sts Phila
Editors, Daily Republican newspaper Springfield Mass
Dr Karl Knortz cor Morris av and 155th st New York
R W Gilder Century Magazine, Union Sq N Y

All the above would quite certainly announce and review the German trans.

Thomas William Hazen Rolleston (1857–1920) was an Irish poet and journalist. After attending college in Dublin, he moved to Germany for a period of time. He wrote to Whitman frequently, beginning in 1880, and later produced with Karl Knortz the first book-length translation of Whitman's poetry into German. In 1889, the collection Grashalme: Gedichte [Leaves of Grass: Poems] was published by Verlags-Magazin in Zurich, Switzerland. See Walter Grünzweig, Constructing the German Walt Whitman (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1995). For more information on Rolleston, see Walter Grünzweig, "Rolleston, Thomas William Hazen (1857–1920)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This is a draft letter. On August 7, 1884, Rolleston informed Whitman of the progress of his translation. Despite Rolleston's willingness to subsidize the German edition, he was not able to publish it (see the letter from Whitman to Rolleston of September 20, 1884). [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.