Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, 29 August [1883]

Date: August 29, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00496

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:349. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

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

Aug 29

Have finished my Germantown visit & am back here. I did not send Dr B[ucke]'s book to Mrs. Ritter2—have indeed not sent copies to any except my sisters and neices.3 Mrs. Gilchrist, however, has a copy—John Burroughs also has—Glad you sent one to Tucker4—he is a good friend—I have not heard any thing more of Rolleston's German translation.5 Dr Karl Knortz, cor: Morris av. & 155th st. New York City, has translated many of my poems in German, & published them.6 Do you know the Nation is made up of Evening Post matter?



1. This letter is incorrectly endorsed (by O'Connor): "Answ'd Sept 4/82." It is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service | Treasury | Washington D C. It is postmarked: Philadelphia | Pa. | Aug 29 83 | 6 30 PM; Washington, Recd. | Aug | 30 | 4 30 AM | 1883 | 2. [back]

2. See the letter from Whitman to Herbert Gilchrist of April 29, 1879[back]

3. Whitman was not accurate. He sent Bucke's book to John H. Johnston and to John Swinton on July 19 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

4. Benjamin R. Tucker was a translator, editor, and friend of writer John Ruskin. On May 25, 1882, Tucker offered to act as Whitman's publisher in order to test the Boston banning of Leaves of Grass (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Monday, September 3, 1888, 253–254). As editor of Liberty, he followed the Boston controversy closely in editorial comments on May 27, June 10, and July 22. In the July issue, he printed an advertisement in which he offered to sell and mail Leaves of Grass to any purchaser, and informed Stevens, Marston, Tobey, and Comstock, all of whom were mentioned by name, that he was willing to have his offer tested in the courts. On August 19, he commented: "We have offered to meet the enemy, but the enemy declines to be met. . . . We still advertise the book for sale, and sell it openly and rapidly." The advertisement appeared again on September 16. For more information on the controversy, see Joseph P. Hammond, "Stevens, Oliver (b. 1825)" and "Comstock, Anthony (1844–1919)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

5. On September 27 and again on November 22, Rolleston discussed problems connected with his translation. On October 14, Whitman sent Knortz's translations to Rolleston, and on December 10 noted receipt of his friend's "lecture pamphlet, 'Wordsworth and Walt Whitman' from Dresden [Über Wordsworth und Walt Whitman]" (Whitman's Commonplace Book). A translation of Rolleston's lecture, prepared by Horace Traubel's father and corrected by Whitman, appeared in the Camden Daily Post on February 13, 1884. Whitman's corrections in purple crayon appear in Traubel's manuscript in the Feinberg Collection. [back]

6. See the letter from Whitman to Karl Knortz of June 19, 1883[back]


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