Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to George Routledge & Sons, 19 February 1868

Date: February 19, 1868

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00371

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: Alex Kinnaman, Jonathan Y. Cheng, Elziabeth Lorang, Ashley Lawson, Cristin Noonan, Marie Ernster, Kassie Jo Baron, Stephanie Blalock, and Amanda J. Axley

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William Inglis Morse
February 19, 1868.
Messrs. Routledge,
Publishers Broadway.

Dear Sirs:

By your note of 18th,1 from New York, just received, I find that Mr. Edmund Routledge,2 editor, would, (I quote,) like to keep & use an original three-page poem sent him from me, but demurs to my first-asked price—that he directs you to offer me 10 pounds, which you can send me, $50: in gold—& that, (the terms being settled,) he will advertise it very largely.3

I accept the terms offered—$50: in gold—and you can forw'd me the amount as soon as convenient. I repeat that I distinctly reserve the right of printing the piece in a future edition of my poems.4

Sending best wishes & respects to editor & publishers,5
I remain,
Walt Whitman6

George Routledge & Sons were the publishers of the London Broadway Annual (1867–1872). In 1867, they printed two sympathetic accounts of Whitman. The novelist W. Clark Russell termed Whitman one of America's eminent poets, and Robert Buchanan devoted an entire article to Whitman; see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Tuesday, April 17, 1888 and Tuesday, May 22, 1888. On December 28, 1867, the New York office of the firm requested that Whitman contribute "one or two papers or poems." Whitman sent "Whispers of Heavenly Death" in February 1868, and received $50 in compensation, which he accepted in his February 19, 1868, letter to Routledge & Sons. The poem, however, did not appear in the Broadway Annual until October 1868.


1. This letter has not been located. [back]

2. Edmund Routledge was the son of George Routledge (1812–1888), founder of the London publishing firm George Routledge & Sons. He edited the London Broadway Annual.  [back]

3. See Whitman's January 17, 1868, letter to Edmund Routledge. [back]

4. Whitman and Horace Traubel discussed a draft version of this letter (manuscript in The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.) in which Whitman excised the next paragraph: "Allow [me] to say to Mr. E. Routledge—I profoundly approve your idea & enterprise of a Magazine interlinking the two English-speaking nations, and, persevered in, I have no doubt it will be a triumphant success." See Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden Wednesday, February 20, 1889[back]

5. John Camden Hotten (1832–1873) was a publisher in London known primarily for his dictionary of English language slang. Hotten was one of the first publishers to bring Whitman's poetry to an overseas audience. [back]

6. Information about the provenance of the letter appears in an unknown hand on the verso of the manuscript. [back]


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