Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Nathan Hale, Jr., 14 June 1842

Date: June 14, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00247

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript 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.

Editorial notes: The annotations, "Wishes Manuscripts," and "Ans. June 23, '42," are in an unknown hand.

Contributors to digital file: Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, Erel Michaelis, Kassie Jo Baron, Jeff Hill, and Stephanie Blalock

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I took the liberty, two or three weeks since, of forwarding you a MS tale "The Angel of Tears," intended for the "Boston Miscellany."1

Be so kind, if you accept it, to forward a note, informing me thereof, to this place (your agency in New York), and if you decline, please return the MS.—

My stories, I believe, have been pretty popular, and extracted liberally. Several of them in the Democratic Review2 have received public favor, instance "Death in the School–Room,"3 &c &c.

Walter Whitman
Tuesday June 14th4

N. Hale Jr. Boston Mass.5

Nathan Hale, Jr. (1818–1871) served as the editor of the Boston Miscellany from 1842–1843. He was the son of journalist and newspaper publisher Nathan Hale. Whitman wrote Hale twice in an effort to sell the story "The Angel of Tears," but Hale declined to publish it.


1. The Boston Miscellany of Literature and Fashion was a monthly magazine that ran from 1842–1843. Nathan Hale Jr. served as editor in 1842 and resigned the position to Henry Tuckerman at the end of the year. The magazine printed literary contributions from writers like James Russell Lowell, Edgar Allan Poe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The magazine also printed fashion plates and music (Frank L. Mott, A History of American Magazines, 1741–1930 [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958], 1: 718–720). [back]

2. The United States Magazine and Democratic Review (October 1837–December 1851), a monthly magazine designed to promote the liberal politics of the Democratic party, as well as to provide a forum for contemporary American literature, was jointly edited by John L. O'Sullivan and Samuel D. Langree. Often called simply the Democratic Review, it was published under that title from January-December 1852, then as the United States Review (January 1853-January 1856), and later as the United States Democratic Review (February 1856–October 1859). See here for the full encyclopedia entry. [back]

3. This tale is Whitman's earliest known short story and the first of nine stories by Whitman that were published for the first time in The United States Magazine and Democratic Review. When Whitman reprinted this story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1847, while he was editor of that paper, he shortened the title to "Death in the school room." Whitman included a poem just before the story titled "Christmas Hymn." He later reprinted the tale as "Death in the School-Room. (A Fact.)" in the "Pieces in Early Youth" section of Specimen Days & Collect (Philadelphia: Rees Welsh & Co., 1882), 340–344. "Pieces in Early Youth" was also reprinted in Whitman's Complete Prose Works (1892): see Death in the School-Room. (A Fact.)" For a complete list of revisions to the language of the story made or authorized by Whitman for publication in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Specimen Days & Collect, see Thomas L. Brasher, ed., The Collected Writings of Walt Whitman: The Early Poems and the Fiction (New York: New York University Press, 1963), 55–60. For the publication history and reception of "Death in the School-Room," see About 'Death in the School-Room.'" [back]

4. Whitman previously wrote Hale to inquire if the Boston Miscellany would publish "The Angel of Tears" on June 1, 1842[back]

5. This address is written on the verso of the letter. [back]


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