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Dodd, Mead & Company to Walt Whitman, 15 April 1890

 loc.01438.001_large.jpg Walt Whitman, Esq., Dear Sir:

The enclosed announcement2 will give you the particulars of a series which we have in hand, and expect soon to begin the publication of.

We write now in hopes of securing your co–operation in the work.

We understand that you have one or more lectures on Lincoln,3 and have beside a quantity of available material. Would you be willing to furnish us a volume not to exceed sixty thousand words? We would leave the treatment of the subject entirely to your best judgment, so that you might present Lincoln from any point of view that seems to you particularly affective. The details of his life have of course been done at great length.

We think that such a volume as we propose from your pen would attract very wide attention.

We are paying the authors in this series ten per cent of the retail price of all books sold. But if you would prefer a lump sum instead of the copyright, we should be happy to pay you Five hundred ($500) Dollars for such a volume as we outline, on receipt of the manuscript from you.

Trusting that the idea may stike you favorably, and that we may have an answer in the affirmative, we are,

Yours very truly, Dodd, Mead & Company


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Dodd, Mead, & Company was a New York publishing house founded in 1839 that, operating under several names, continued until 1990. The firm began as a publisher of religious books under partners Moses Woodruff Dodd (1813–1899) and John S. Taylor; within a year, Dodd had bought out Taylor's part of the company and renamed it M. W. Dodd. Dodd's son, Frank Howard Dodd later joined the business, as did his cousin Edward S. Mead. The Company became known as Dodd, Mead, & Co. in 1876.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman Esq | Camden | New Jersey. It is postmarked New York | Apr 15 | 7PM | D; 90; Camden, N. J. | APR 15 | 6AM | 1890 | Rec'd; Camden, N. J. | APR 15 | 6AM | 1890 | Rec'd. [back]
  • 2. Dodd, Mead, & company enclosed a printed prospecus for their series "Makers of America" with this letter. [back]
  • 3. It had been Whitman's custom in the past years to deliver a lecture on Abraham Lincoln on or about April 15, the day of Lincoln's assassination. See Gay Wilson Allen, The Solitary Singer: A Critical Biography of Walt Whitman (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1955), 483–484, 491–492, 524, and 525. Whitman delivered his Lincoln lecture for the last time on April 15, 1890, in the Arts Room in Philadelphia. For more information, see Larry D. Griffin, "'Death of Abraham Lincoln' (1879)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
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