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Walt Whitman to Dionysius Thomas, 13 October [1867]

 duk.00642.003.jpg Dear Sir:

I write to ask your kind offices in the following described matter:

I sent to Doolady2 six weeks ago an order

Mr. James Gray, Bookbinder 16 Spruce st. 4th floor, is the custodian of the sheets of my Leaves of Grass, & has been the binder for me. The sheets are now at his place.

I hear that he has become involved—in fact has failed. If so, I regret it much.3

I have been waiting now over six weeks for the fulfilment of orders I have sent him for bound books—& now, under that state of things, I suppose it will not be possible for him to do the work.


Dionysius Thomas was a New York City bookseller who apparently had copies of the first edition of Leaves of Grass (as Whitman told Gordon Lester Ford on August 23, 1867). However, by October 17, 1871, Whitman told an unidentified correspondent, "some time ago Dion Thomas, bookseller, 2d story, Fulton st. north side, about midway bet. Nassau and Broadway, had some copies of 1st edition Leaves of Grass—but whether he still has them to sell I cannot say[.]"


  • 1.

    This draft letter is endorsed (by Whitman), "Dion Thomas | Nassau st. bet Beekman & Spru[ce]." Whitman crossed out the draft, and on the back wrote a series of notes labeled "Specimen Days."

    In the Clifton Waller Barrett Collection at the University of Virginia, there is an envelope, postmarked October 16, addressed to: "Dion Thomas, | Bookseller, &c | Nassau street, bet. Beekman & Spruce, | New York City."

  • 2. Michael Doolady, a bookseller and publisher at 448 Broome Street in New York, was the publisher of Ada Clare's Only a Woman's Heart (1866). For Walt Whitman's correspondence with Doolady, see Whitman's letter of November 13, 1867. [back]
  • 3. In 1888 Whitman spoke of "a history and a grief" in connection with the 1867 edition: "It was got up by a friend of mine, a young fellow, printed from type, in New York. One day I received the intelligence . . . that the place had been seized for debt. I received a portion of the books remaining—the most of them were lost" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden [1906–1996], 2:257). [back]
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