Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to John Burroughs, 27 March 1883

Date: March 27, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: med.00757

Source: The location of this manuscript is unknown. Miller's transcription was derived from a transcript in Parke-Bernet Galleries Auction Catalog, February 15–16, 1943. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 6:29. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman and Nicole Gray

March 27 1883

...the type-setting on Dr. Bucke's book is about completed.1

W. W.


1. In 1883 Whitman arranged with David McKay, his Philadelphia publisher, to print Bucke's Walt Whitman (1883). The poet personally supervised publication, including proofreading. The typesetting of Bucke's biography was completed on March 31 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). Bucke generated some of the text, but Whitman controlled every detail, altering the proofs at will. On March 20, Bucke wrote: "I open and read these parcels of proof in fear and trembling (you must go as easy as you can, you are the terrible surgeon with the knife & saw and saw the patient). You left out my remarks on 'Children of Adam', I believe they were good but I acquiesce—your additions are excellent as they have been all through." On May 28 Bucke was pleased with the book he and Whitman had produced: "I believe it will do, and if it will the Editor will deserve more credit than the Author—I am really surprised at the tact and judgement you have displayed in putting my rough M. S. into shape and I am more than satisfied with all you have done." Bucke, however, was not quite so pleased with Whitman's high-handed treatment of his book as his letters to the poet indicate. For in a letter on August 19 to O'Connor, who on August 16 objected to "several omissions and commissions," Bucke wrote: "I do not care to go into these matters by letter but when you come [to Canada] I will make every thing clear to your comprehension" (Library of Congress). [back]


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