Selected Criticism

Worthington, Richard (1834–1894)
Miller, David G.
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Richard Worthington was a printer in New York who published unauthorized editions of Leaves of Grass in the 1860s. For two hundred dollars, Worthington purchased the publishers' plates for the 1860 edition of the book at the bankruptcy auction of Thayer and Eldridge. He then proceeded to print and sell copies without Whitman's permission.

Whitman was outraged by the piracy and railed against "Holy Dick," as he ironically nicknamed Worthington. Although as many as ten thousand spurious copies may have been sold, Whitman never took Worthington to court because he felt it was too much trouble. Biographers, however, also point out that Whitman was willing to receive royalties from the pirated editions, which may have kept him from pursuing legal action.


Allen, Gay Wilson. The New Walt Whitman Handbook. 1975. New York: New York UP, 1986.

Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995.


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