Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Henry M. Alden to Walt Whitman, 16 March 1891

Date: March 16, 1891

Whitman Archive ID: loc.08279

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. 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, Amanda Axley, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock

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March 16, 1891

Dear Mr Whitman,

I saw a literary note yesterday, saything that you will soon bring out a new volume of poems.1 We have not yet printed your poem—"Death's Valley," written at our request.2 We do not know whether you think of using this poem in your forthcoming volume; indeed, we presume that you do not, as we secured it with a view to its publication at our option as to time. But we ought to draw your attention to the matter, to guard against the possibility of your issue of the poem before its appearance in our magazine.

Your sincerely
H. M. Alden

Edr Harper's Maga.3

Henry Mills Alden (1836–1919) was managing editor of Harper's Weekly from 1863 to 1869 and editor of Harper's Monthly Magazine from 1869 until his death.


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. Whitman's poem "Death's Valley" was published in Harper's Monthly Magazine in April 1892, a few days after the poet's death on March 26 of that year. Whitman chose not to include the poem in Good-Bye My Fancy (1891). [back]

3. Harper's Monthly Magazine (sometimes Harper's New Monthly Magazine or simply Harper's) was established in 1850 by Henry J. Raymond and Fletcher Harper. The magazine became successful by reprinting British novels before eventually publishing American authors. Six of Whitman's poems were published there between 1874 and 1892. For more information on Whitman's relationship with Harper's, see Susan Belasco's Harper's Monthly Magazine[back]


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