Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Charles E. Shepard, 19 December 1888

Date: December 19, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: prc.00124

Source: Private collection of Dr. Kendall Reed. The transcription presented here is derived from The Correspondence, ed. Ted Genoways (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004), 7:95. 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, Breanna Himschoot, Alex Ashland, and Stephanie Blalock

Camden N J
Dec: 19 '881

First thanks for the paper wh- comes regularly & is always interesting to me—Second, I send you a Volume of my complete writings2 &c. as a sort of Christmas present for you. When you get it safely, kindly send me word by postal card3—I am laid up sick—have been seven months.

Walt Whitman

Charles E. Shepard, following in the footsteps of his father George H. Shepard, managed and edited the Long Islander newspaper, which Whitman had founded in 1838. Hiram A Baylis became publisher after Charles' death in 1927 (Paul Bailey ed., Long Island: A History of Two Great Counties Nassua and Suffolk [New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., 1949], 347).


1. This letter is addressed: Charles E. Shepard | editor Long Islander newspaper | Huntington, Suffolk Co: New York. It is postmarked: Camden NJ Dec 19 88. [back]

2. Whitman wanted to publish a "big book" that included all of his writings, and, with the help of Horace Traubel, Whitman made the presswork and binding decisions for the volume. Frederick Oldach bound Whitman's Complete Poems & Prose (1888), which included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. The book was published in December 1888. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]

3. If Shepard wrote to acknowledge the receipt of Whitman's package, the letter is now lost. See Daybooks and Notebooks, Volume 2, ed. William White (New York: New York University Press, 1978), 479, where the poet lists Shepard as one of only sixteen people to receive Complete Poems & Prose in December 1888. [back]


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