Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John Burroughs, 17 June 1881

Date: June 17, 1881

Whitman Archive ID: med.00646

Source: The location of this manuscript is unknown. The transcription is taken from Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931), 205–206, with additions from the American Art Association auction catalog for the sale of February 13 and 14, 1924. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Ted Genoways (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004), 7:62–63. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Nicole Gray, and Stefan Schöberlein

June 17, 1881

I ... return'd last evening from ten days down in the Jersey woods....1

I have just concluded a contract with J. R. Osgood and Co of Boston for the publishing of my poems complete in one volume, under the title of "Walt Whitman's Poems" (the old name of "Leaves of Grass" running through the same as ever)—to be either a $2. book or a $2.50 one—if the former, I to have 25 cts royalty, if the latter, 30 cts)—The proposition for publication came from them. The bulk of the pieces will be the same as hitherto—only I shall secure now the consecutiveness and ensemble I am always thinking of—Book will probably be out before winter.

Nothing very new otherwise—you must have kept posted about my Boston jaunt, for I sent you papers—it was altogether a curious success—not so much in quantity as quality—

Last January, I think it was, I took a bad chill—bothered me for over two months, lingering along—but I believe the Boston jaunt drove the last of it away....

My forthcoming summer movements are not exactly decided—probably go on to Boston for two or three weeks, as I like to keep a sharp eye on my proofs and typography—then I must go a month in Canada—I will keep you posted, and will try to pay you a visit, too2—how is 'Sula? Write soon.

Walt Whitman


1. Whitman was on the Stafford farm from June 11 through 15 (Daybooks and Notebooks, ed. William White [New York: New York University Press, 1978] 1:244). [back]

2. On May 23 Burroughs wrote to Whitman inviting him to Esopus, New York, and promising to visit Camden shortly (T. E. Hanley Collection, University of Texas). With this letter Whitman sent a copy of "A Summer's Invocation" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]


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