Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Mr. Bennerman, 22 May 1888

Date: May 22, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: loc.07520

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, 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), 4:171. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Alex Ashland, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

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Tuesday May 22 '881

To Mr. Bennerman:

The bearer of this is Horace Traubel,2 a young friend of mine in whom I have confidence—I want to have printed (stereotyped) a book of (probably) 160 to 200 pages3—may-be somewhat less—long primer—exactly same sized page as the "Specimen Days" you printed of mine six years ago—

Can you & would you like to do it for me?—Have you some good long primer? The copy is ready—it is all printed matter—(or nearly all)—is all plain sailing—you could commence next Monday—Sh'd want liberal proofs—

You can talk with Horace Traubel just the same as you w'd with me—I am almost entirely disabled ab't walking, or bodily locomotion—

Walt Whitman

328 Mickle Street
Camden NJ

Whitman had intended to have Mr. Bennerman, a Philadelphia proprietor, print November Boughs, but Bennerman lost the print job in part because, Whitman claimed, "he never wanted me to go upstairs into the composing room" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, May 25, 1888).


1. This letter is addressed: Mr Bennerman | Printing Office cor: 7th & | Cherry Streets | Philadelphia. Whitman's return address is printed on the envelope as follows: WALT WHITMAN, | CAMDEN, | NEW JERSEY. [back]

2. Horace L. Traubel (1858–1919) was an American essayist, poet, and magazine publisher. He is best remembered as the literary executor, biographer, and self-fashioned "spirit child" of Walt Whitman. During the late 1880s and until Whitman's death in 1892, Traubel visited the poet virtually every day and took thorough notes of their conversations, which he later transcribed and published in three large volumes entitled With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906, 1908, & 1914). After his death, Traubel left behind enough manuscripts for six more volumes of the series, the final two of which were published in 1996. For more on Traubel, see Ed Folsom, "Traubel, Horace L. [1858–1919]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Whitman is referring to November Boughs[back]


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