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John Townsend Trowbridge to Walt Whitman, 1 January 1867


A happy New Year, my dear friend!—And here is a lot of luck for your new vol. of "Leaves."2

How are you, these days?

I had a delightful letter from W.D. O'C.3 yesterday. Thank him for me.

Ever Yours J.T. Trowbridge Walt Whitman.  loc_vm.00670_large.jpg  loc_vm.00667_large.jpg Trowbridge—Jan 8-67—  loc_vm.00668_large.jpg

John Townsend Trowbridge (1827-1916) was a novelist, poet, author of juvenile stories, and antislavery reformer. Though Trowbridge became familiar with Whitman's poetry in 1855, he did not meet Whitman until 1860 when the poet was in Boston overseeing the Thayer and Eldridge edition of Leaves of Grass. He again met Whitman in Washington in 1863, when Trowbridge stayed with Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase in order to gather material for his biography, The Ferry Boy and the Financier (Boston: Walker and Wise, 1864); he described their meetings in My Own Story (Boston: Houghton and Mifflin, 1903), 360–401, with recollections of noted persons. On December 11, 1863, Trowbridge presented to Chase Emerson's letter recommending Whitman; see Emerson's letter from January 10, 1863. Though Trowbridge was not an idolator of Whitman, he wrote to William D. O'Connor in 1867: "Every year confirms my earliest impression, that no book has approached the power and greatness of this book, since the Lear and Hamlet of Shakespeare" (Rufus A. Coleman, "Trowbridge and O'Connor," American Literature, 23 [1951–52], 327). For Whitman's high opinion of Trowbridge, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden (1906–1996), 3:506. See also Coleman, "Trowbridge and Whitman," PMLA, 63 (1948), 262–273.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Attorney General's Office | Treasury Building | Washington D.C.; It is postmarked: CARRIER | JAN| 2 |1867 | 2 DEL. [back]
  • 2. The fourth edition of Leaves of Grass (1867) was issued by the New York printer William E. Chapin. Often called the "workshop" edition, the volume consisted of four separately paginated books stitched together (an edited version of the 1860 Leaves of Grass, reissues of Drum-Taps and Sequel to Drum-Taps, and a coda called Songs Before Parting) between two covers. For more on the fourth edition, see Luke Mancuso, "Leaves of Grass, 1867 edition," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 3. William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication, published in 1866. For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
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