Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Thomas W. H. Rolleston, 20 September 1884

Date: September 20, 1884

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05825

Source: Draft letter in the 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), 3:377. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: The annotation, "Sent to Rolleston, Ireland, Sept. 20 '84.," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein and Kyle Barton

Write now to acknowledge yours from Ireland just rec'd.—to send you congratulations on return home with wife and children—and prayers for good future to you all—will write in time, what I have to say about the new phase of the trans[lation] enterprise.1 I am about as usual in health—one point worse—thre[atened] with total and permanent loss of walking power—

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. When Rolleston wrote on September 9, 1884, he was in Ireland. Acknowledging his failure to persuade a German publisher to undertake the volume, he now wanted Whitman to find "a willing publisher with some German connection" in America. The book was printed in 1889 in Switzerland. This draft letter was written on the verso of an envelope from John K. Randall, a Baltimore lawyer. According to Whitman's reference to this letter in his Commonplace Book, he must have sent about this time a post card to Rolleston in Switzerland. [back]


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