Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Ernest Rhys, 20 March 1886

Date: March 20, 1886

Whitman Archive ID: pri.00010

Source: Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Kyle Barton, and Nicole Gray

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328 Mickle street
Camden New Jersey U S America
March 20 1886

My dear Ernest Rhys

Thank you for the little volumes—three copies have reached me1—they look very well, & I am pleased with them, & with prefatory notice—I am here, ab't the same as of late years—Keep up pretty good spirits & buoyancy—that makes the best of it all—Give my respects to the Walter Scott folk—& dont forget to write to me soon, to let me know how the Vol. goes—I much hope to reach the working men, & guilds of the British Islands—especially the young fellows—& trust the W. S. vol. will forward that object.

Walt Whitman

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. Leaves of Grass: The Poems of Walt Whitman [Selected], with an introduction by Rhys, was printed in 1886 in The Canterbury Poet Series, published by Walter Scott. Whitman noted receipt of the volumes on March 18 in his Commonplace Book (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). A presentation copy in the Feinberg Collection reads: "Walt Whitman with Ernest Rhys's apologies & high regards. 1st March 1886." On May 22 Rhys informed the poet that about 8,000 copies of the edition were sold, and that the publisher expected to print a second edition. In the same letter Rhys requested permission to include Specimen Days in a prose series called The Camelot Classics. [back]


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