Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Anne Gilchrist, 8 October 1882

Date: October 8, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: pml.00052

Source: The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 3:309–310. 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, Stefan Schöberlein, and Nicole Gray

Sunday afternoon
Oct: 8 '821

Never have we had a week of more perfect, sunny, fresh, yet mellow and rich, autumn weather—to-day is the eighth day of it—("In this resplendent summer" began Emerson 25 years ago in an autumn lecture, "it has been a luxury merely to live")2—I suppose you have rec'd the "Specimen Days" I sent a while since3—I am well as usual—reeling out my weeks & months about the same as ever—often think of you all—the books are selling quite well4

W. W.


1. This letter is addressed: Mrs: Anne Gilchrist | Keats' Corner 12 Well Road | Hampstead | London England. It is postmarked: Camden | Oct | 8 | 6 PM | N.J.; Philadelphia | Oct | 8 | 1882 | Pa. [back]

2. See the first sentence of The Divinity School Address (1838): "In this refulgent summer, it has been a luxury to draw the breath of life." [back]

3. Whitman sent two copies to Anne Gilchrist on October 5 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). Herbert referred to the book on October (?) 20, and Anne Gilchrist described her reactions to the work on November 24[back]

4. Because the records of David McKay, successor to Rees Welsh & Co. as Whitman's publisher, are now in the University of Pennsylvania Library, exact figures on sales are available until the poet's death. As of December 1, 1882, 4,900 copies of Leaves of Grass had been printed, of which 3,118 were sold. Whitman's royalty was $1,091.30. Only 1,000 copies of Specimen Days were printed and 925 copies sold; the return to Whitman was $203.50—a total of $1,294.80. Because Whitman owed McKay money, the actual return was $1,230.78 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]


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