Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William Michael Rossetti, 11 February 1876

Date: February 11, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: pri.00015

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: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Zachary King, Eric Conrad, Cristin Noonan, Marie Ernster, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

page image
image 1

431 Stevens st.
cor West.
N. Jersey,
U.S. America.
Feb. 11 /76

W. M. Rossetti:
My dear friend,

I would ask of you the favor to see, if convenient, whether the enclosed article The American War1 would be available for the Academy2—(or any where else if you think preferable.)

I would like pay for it—would be satisfied with 25 or $30.

I am getting along much the same. My new book wont be out yet, publicly, for a month.

Walt Whitman

[I also send a little hitherto unpublished poem, The Man-of-War Bird3—which I can't sell here—I wonder if you could sell it for me, in London? It is not in my new book, & is entirely fresh.]4

William Michael Rossetti (1829–1915), brother of Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, was an English editor and a champion of Whitman's work. In 1868, Rossetti edited Whitman's Poems, selected from the 1867 Leaves of Grass. Whitman referred to Rossetti's edition as a "horrible dismemberment of my book" in his August 12, 1871, letter to Frederick S. Ellis. Nonetheless, the edition provided a major boost to Whitman's reputation, and Rossetti would remain a staunch supporter for the rest of Whitman's life, drawing in subscribers to the 1876 Leaves of Grass and fundraising for Whitman in England. For more on Whitman's relationship with Rossetti, see Sherwood Smith, "Rossetti, William Michael (1829–1915)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


1. "The American War" was published in The Examiner; see Whitman's letter to Rossetti of June 26, 1876[back]

2. Founded by the scholar and entrepreneur Charles Appleton (1841–1879), The Academy was a literature review published monthly in London at its inception in 1869 and, later, published as a weekly until 1902, when it merged with another periodical, entitled Literature[back]

3. The poem (later retitled "To the Man-of-War-Bird") appeared in The Athenaeum (April 1, 1876), 463, which paid WW £3.3 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). It was then published in the Philadelphia Progress on November 16, 1878. [back]

4. Edwin Haviland Miller includes this postscript, which may have been written on the verso of this letter (Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. [New York: New York University Press, 1961–69], 3:23). [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.