Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Richard Worthington to Walt Whitman, 29 September 1879

Date: September 29, 1879

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00312

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.

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: Kirsten Clawson, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, and Stefan Schöberlein

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New York,
Sept 29th 1879.
Mr Walt Whitman

Dear Sir:

We have recently purchased at the Auction Rooms of Messrs Geo. A. Leavitt Co of this city the electrotype plates of an edition of your "Leaves of Grass" bearing the imprint of Thayer and Eldridge, Boston 1860–61.2 As the edition is not complete although subject as I understand to a copyright of ten percent it seems to me that it would be better for all parties to have it completed. If this idea meets your views on the subject I would be willing to make you an immediate payment of $250.00 on account and will [do?] everything in my power to make the book sell.3

An early reply would oblige

Your Truly
R. Worthington

P.S. Porter & Coates, Claxton Remsen & Hafflefinger of Philadelphia or Gebbie & Harris or any of the leading Houses of the country would inform you that I am perfectly responsible & that you are sure of getting your copyright.

R. W.


1. Richard Worthington was a New York printer who published and sold unauthorized editions of Whitman's Leaves of Grass, printed from the plates of the 1860 edition. Whitman explains his claims against Worthington in his November 26, 1880, letter to Richard Watson Gilder. For more on Worthington and the piracy controversy, see Jerome Loving, Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 401, and Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]

2. For more on Thayer and Eldridge, publishers of the third edition of Leaves of Grass, see "Thayer, William Wilde (1829–1896) and Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), [back]

3. For a discussion of the Worthington affair, see the letter from Whitman to Richard Watson Gilder of November 26, 1880, where Worthington's letter, which Whitman misinterpreted, is quoted. [back]


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