Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to James Russell Lowell, 1 October 1861

Date: October 1, 1861

Whitman Archive ID: prc.00004

Source: Private collection. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:57. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Eric Conrad, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Alyssa Olson

Tuesday morning October 1st | 18611

Mr. Lowell,

Dear Sir: The price of "1861," if you print it, is $20. You are at liberty to make any verbal alterations. The envelope is of course to return it in, if you cannot use it.2

Yours truly

W. Whitman


1. The envelope for this letter bears the address: J. R. Lowell | Atlantic Magazine. [back]

2. On October 8, 1861, Lowell wrote to James T. Fields: "I enclose . . . three [poems] from Walt Whitman. '1861' he says is $20. the others $8. each"; see M. A. De Wolfe Howe, ed., New Letters of James Russell Lowell (New York: Harper, 1932), 102. On October 10, 1861, the editors of the Atlantic Monthly declined "the three poems with which you have favored us, but which we could not possibly use before their interest,—which is of the present,—would have passed" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection; Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [1906-1996], 9 vols., 2:213). When Horace Traubel asked Whitman in 1888 for the titles of these poems, he replied: "I don't just remember: I do remember that the idea that their interest was of the present struck me as being a bit odd: I always have written with something more than a simply contemporary perspective" (2:213). "1861" appeared in Drum-Taps (1865). [back]


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