Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Ernest Rhys, 11 April 1887

Date: April 11, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00579

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), 6:39. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ryan Furlong, Stefan Schöberlein, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

Camden New Jersey U S America 1
April 11 '87

Yours of March 29 rec'd2 & welcomed—I sent you a request for two or three printed slips of the Preface, when in type—also some of the "additional note"—Keep your eyes open sharp to any little technical or sentence alterations of the text of "Spec: Days in America" for your Ed'n—as the book was printed rather hurriedly here for the America area, without tho't of foreign reprint—If you have any frontispiece portrait, try to have a good one—else none at all w'd be best—the one in y'r little L of G is bad—I go on to New York (if I can get there) to deliver my "Death of Lincoln" lecture3


Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a British author and editor; he founded the Everyman's Library series of inexpensive reprintings of popular works. He included a volume of Whitman's poems in the Canterbury Poets series and two volumes of Whitman's prose in the Camelot series for Walter Scott publishers. For more information about Rhys, see Joel Myerson, "Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. This letter is addressed: Ernest Rhys | Care of Walter Scott, Publisher | 24 Warwick Lane | London England | EC. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Apr 11 | 12 M | 87; London | (?) | Ap 22 | AH. [back]

2. See also Rhys' letter of March 29, 1887[back]

3. The lecture was a tremendous success, and Whitman was so showered with adulation that he observed in the Commonplace Book: "If I had staid longer, I sh'd have been killed with kindness & compliments" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). The arrangements for the lecture were made by John H. Johnston; see his letter to Walt Whitman on March 24, 1887. The poet stayed at the Westminster Hotel in a suite once occupied by Dickens, where on April 13 he was visited by such old friends as Johnston, Burroughs, Stedman, and Richard Watson Gilder. At the Madison-Square Theatre on the next day he was escorted on stage by William Duckett and gave his lecture before an audience that included James Russell Lowell, John Hay, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Andrew Carnegie. After his speech he received "two or more hundred friends" at Westminster Hotel, appearing "little fatigued," according to the New York Evening Sun. On the following day he sat for C. O. Cox, the photographer, and Dora Wheeler, "portrait painter" (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs — Comrades (1931), 264–265). A lengthy notice appeared in the New York Times on April 15. For this lecture Walt Whitman received $600, $250 from the sale of tickets and $350 from Carnegie. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.