Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to David McKay, 27 December 1888

Date: December 27, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: med.00859

Source: The location of this manuscript is unknown. Miller derives his transcription from a transcript published in Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, ed. Sculley Bradley (New York: Mitchell Kinnerley, 1914). The transcription presented here is derived from The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:257. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

Dec. 27, '88.

I have no objection to this going in Miss Gould's little book1—no objection at all, but no vehement desire either—If you can include it conveniently, do so; if not, not—I am feeling easier and freer the last four days.

Walt Whitman

David McKay (1860–1918) took over Philadelphia-based publisher Rees Welsh's bookselling and publishing businesses in 1881–2. McKay and Rees Welsh published the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass after opposition from the Boston District Attorney prompted James R. Osgood & Company of Boston, the publisher Whitman had originally contracted with for publication of the volume, to withdraw. McKay also went on to publish Specimen Days & Collect, November Boughs, Gems from Walt Whitman, and Complete Prose Works. For more information about McKay, see Joel Myerson, "McKay, David (1860–1918)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. David McKay published Elizabeth Porter Gould's Gems from Walt Whitman in 1889. To Traubel the poet observed: "These gems, extracts, specimens, tid-bits, brilliants, sparkles, chippings—oh, they are all wearisome: they might go with some books: yes, they fit with some books—some books fit with them: but Leaves of Grass is different—yields nothing to the seeker for sensations" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Thursday, December 27, 1888). See also Friday, December 28, 1888[back]


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