Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Rees Welsh & Company, 20 June 1882

Date: June 20, 1882

Whitman Archive ID: upa.00136

Source: This draft letter is in the Walt Whitman Collection, 1842–1957, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania. 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 Schoeberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, and Nicole Gray

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Let me make my propositions as plainly as possible.1

Rees Welsh & Co: to publish Leaves of Grass, (in a style as good as the Osgood issue) from W W's electrotype plates to retail at $2—to pay W W a royalty of 35 cts on every copy sold. This agreement to remain in force blank2 and as much longer as both parties mutually agree.

R W & Co. to have the privilege of purchasing from W W the plates of L of G., with the steel engraving & the wood cut, for the sum of 400. cash. After so purchasing W W's royalty to be at 25 cts a copy

Rees Welsh & Co: to electrotype, in the best manner at their sole expense, & publish W W's Prose Writings, Specimen Days (now mostly in MS) as a companion volume to Leaves of Grass, to be of about the same [size?] & in equally good type, paper & style & to retail at $2—R W & Co: to pay W W a royalty of 22 cents on every copy sold—said R W & Co. to have the sole right to publish Specimen Days for five years, and as much longer as mutually agreed

A special edition of Leaves of Grass for holiday presents in handsome binding, (say half calf, gilt) may be published, price $5. For these W W's royalty to be 87½ cts a copy.

W W is to be the sole owner of the copyright of Specimen Days.

W W to have 25 copies of the first 1000 of Specimen Days, without charge.

R W & Co: to publish Walt Whitman a Study, by Dr R M Bucke of Canada, in a 12mo volume of about three hundred pages, on condition that Dr. B. secures the American copyright

A royalty of                to be paid Dr B.

WW a Study to retail at $2—will call soon3



1. This draft letter is endorsed: "Rees Welsh & Co | Sent Rees Welsh & Co June 20 '82." It is written on the back of a series of other documents, including a letter from David Hutcheson to Whitman of November 24, 1880, a letter from John Forney [?] to Whitman of June 11, and an undated letter from Miss F.M. Alvoral [?]. [back]

2. Whitman originally wrote "five years," then crossed it out and wrote over it in pencil the word "blank." [back]

3. Rees Welsh & Co. agreed to Whitman's terms on June 21 with two stipulations: they were unwilling to accept Specimen Days until they had seen the manuscript, and they wanted to know about the copyright of Bucke's volume. Apparently the agreement to publish Leaves of Grass and Specimen Days was signed on June 28 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). See also the letter from Whitman to William D. O'Connor of June 28, 1882[back]


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