Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Melville Philips, 21 May 1891

Date: May 21, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08048

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), 5:201. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Andrew David King, Breanna Himschoot, and Stephanie Blalock


Dear M P—

This is the best I can do for y'r request—The pieces have not hitherto been publish'd at all but are to be finally included in the little vol:1 to come out (such "out" as it may be, probably small one) in ab't three weeks or longer—If Mr R[obinson]2 can publish them before it will do, & the proprieties conform'd to—The price is $103

New Poetry. By Walt Whitman

Melville Phillips was an editor at Munyon's Illustrated World and visited Whitman in Camden to request that Whitman contribute work to the journal. He also reviewed November Boughs in the Philadelphia Press, where he served as literary editor, in 1888.


1. Whitman's book Good-Bye My Fancy (1891) was his last miscellany, and it included both poetry and short prose works commenting on poetry, aging, and death, among other topics. Thirty-one poems from the book were later printed as "Good-Bye my Fancy" in Leaves of Grass (1891–1892), the last edition of Leaves of Grass published before Whitman's death in March 1892. For more information see, Donald Barlow Stauffer, "'Good-Bye my Fancy' (Second Annex) (1891)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Nugent Robinson (1838–1904) was a journalist and editor from Dublin, Ireland. After graduating from Trinity College, he served an apprenticeship in London and worked as a correspondent for the Daily Chronicle during the Franco-German War. He moved to the United States in 1876, and he edited Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Once a Week, and, later, Collier's Weekly. Robinson was apparently highly regarded among writers like Julian Hawthorne and James Whitcomb Riley, and he authored a number of books himself, including a farce and works on history. For more information, see "Nugent Robinson," Collier's 32.14 (January 9, 1904), 20. [back]

3. On May 19, 1891, Philips asked whether Whitman had received $10 from the Philadelphia Press for an unidentified poem, and requested "a $10 bit" for Nugent Robinson, of Once a Week. According to his Commonplace Book, Whitman furnished, "On, on the Same, Ye Jocund Twain!" and "Unseen Buds." Philips sent the money on May 21 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). See also Whitman's letter to the Editor of Once a Week of January 25, 1891[back]


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