Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to an Unidentified Correspondent, [late 1879–early 1880]

Date: 1879–1880

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00433

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.

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Stefan Schöberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Nicole Gray

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. . . are already getting to be pretty numerous and outspoken.1

Walt Whitman.

Sometimes I think it would be better still to make a compact and finished Vol. of the whole issue of "Leaves of Grass," including the former ones with the new ones, for they are all of a uniform pattern.—This would afford a splendid living American Vol. that would go like the devil through the West, and among the young men everywhere.—


1. This fragment appears to be a draft letter, evidenced both by the informal signature and the fact that it appears on the reverse of a draft of Whitman's poem, "Others May Praise What They Like," which was first published in Drum Taps in 1865. Ted Genoways has argued that the letter draft probably dates to late 1879 or early 1880, based on the poetry draft (which he thinks was likely an intermediary stage between the poem's publication in Drum-Taps and its revised appearance in the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass) and Whitman's visit to the West that fell in the summer and fall of 1879 (The Correspondence [Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004], 57). We have dated the letter earlier, however, thinking it was probably meant for Thayer and Eldridge, since Whitman was eager to have them press for sales of Leaves of Grass in the west. In his anonymous self-review, "All About a Mocking-Bird," Whitman discussed the forthcoming third edition of 1860: "The market needs to-day to be supplied—the great West especially—with copious thousands of copies" (New York Saturday Press [7 January 1860], 3). [back]


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