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Walt Whitman to Alfred and Moses Beach, 17 June 1850

 loc.00709.001.jpg To Messrs. Beach, of the Sun: (through Mr. Stuart.1)

The accompanying novel, of "The Sleeptalker," I consider one of the most interesting, romantic, and full of incident, of any I have ever come across.—It is by the Danish novelist Ingemann,2 a better writer even than Miss Bremer.3

The work from which I have compiled "the Sleeptalker" is an English translation, (I send you the cover and title page,) whose only fault it was, that it was too voluminous, the author going very extensively into the details of old Danish history.—This I have altogether cut out; reducing the work to half its first size.—It has never been republished in this country, and is altogether unknown here.—

The romance is a stirring and lively one, and it seems to me fitted to become very popular.—

I take the liberty of leaving it for you to look at, to see if I could dispose of it for serial publication in "The Sun."—

over  loc.00709.002.jpg

I desire but a moderate price.—After running through the Sun, it seems to me it would pay handsomely to print it in a neat 25 cent book form.—

You will see that the title of the original is "The childhood of Erik Menved"; the latter part of the original story, consisting very much of prolicprolix detail of historical events, gives it that name—but that part of the story I have contracted into a few paragraphs—and have taken a singular trait of one of the principal actors in the narrative as the foundation of the name I give it.—

Please, if convenient, make up your minds whether it would suit you, and how much it would be worth to you, so that I can have an answer by the middle or latter part of the week.—

The story would make about 65 leaded short columns of the Sun—so that, at an average of 3 columns a day it would run through 22 days.—

Walter Whitman 106 Myrtle av. Brooklyn.  loc.00709.003.jpg  loc.00709.004.jpg Walter Whitman | June 17/50

Alfred (1826–1896) and Moses (1822–1892) Beach were brothers from Springfield, Massachusetts, who ran the New York Sun in parntership with their father before buying his part of the paper and assuming full control. Moses became the sole proprietor of The Sun in 1852 and ran the paper through most of the American Civil War. Alfred Beach was a publisher and entrepreneur who is best known as an owner and cofounder of Scientific American magazine.


  • 1. Carlos D. Stuart (1820–1862) was a poet and a journalist, as well as an editor for The New York Sun in the late 1840s and early 1850s. [back]
  • 2. Bernhard Severin Ingemann (1789–1862) was a Danish poet and novelist from the island of Falster, Denmark. He was married to the painter Luie Marie Mandix (1792–1868). [back]
  • 3. Whitman is referring to Fredrika Bremer (1801–1865), who was a Swedish reformer and a writer of romantic stories with independent women as narrators. [back]
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