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Jeanette L. and Joseph B. Gilder to Walt Whitman, 2 December 1890

 loc.02218.001_large.jpg Dear Mr. Whitman:

With its last issue in December, THE CRITIC2 will complete its tenth year (the century's ninetieth) and we should like to signalize the occasion by printing in that number a few lists, by competent judges, of THE BEST FIVE American BOOKS PUBLISHED DURING THE DECADE (Jan. 1, 1881–Dec. 31, 1890). We are confident that your opinion on this subject would be of the greatest interest to our readers, and if you will kindly send us the names of the five books of your choice, we shall deem it a special favor.3

Hoping to hear from you not later than Monday, Dec. 22, and as  loc.02218.003_large.jpg  loc.02218.002_large.jpg much earlier as it may be convenient for you to reply, we remain.

Very truly yours, J.L. & J.B. Gilder EDITORS OF THE CRITIC.

Had forgotton slips, but will send them.

 loc.02218.004_large.jpg see notes Dec 20 1890

Jeannette Leonard Gilder (1849–1916) and her brother Joseph Benson Gilder (1858–1936) edited The Critic together from 1881 to 1906. For more information on Jeannette Gilder, see Susan L. Roberson, "Gilder, Jeannette L. (1849–1916)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. A line in black ink has been drawn through both pages of this letter. [back]
  • 2. The Critic (1881–1906) was a literary magazine co-edited by Joseph Benson Gilder (1858–1936), with his sister Jeannette Leonard Gilder (1849–1916). Whitman's poems "The Pallid Wreath" (January 10, 1891) and "To The Year 1889" (January 5, 1889) were first published in The Critic, as was his essay, "An Old Man's Rejoinder" (August 16, 1890), responding to John Addington Symonds's chapter about Whitman in his Essays Speculative and Suggestive (1890). [back]
  • 3. "The Best Five Books of the Decade" article appeared in the December 27, 1890, issue of The Critic, with responses from authors George W. Cable, Kate Field, Alice French, Lucy Larcom, Brander Mattews, Francis Parkman, Celia Thaxter, and others, but with no response from Whitman. When Horace Traubel found this letter, he asked Whitman if he had answered, but Whitman "evaded questions cursorily" (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Saturday, December 20, 1890). [back]
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