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Walt Whitman to P. J. O'Shea, 13 December 1886


Thanks for your kind letter & the nice gift2—the $10—which has safely reached me, & is opportune—

Walt Whitman

I did not know of any "pirated edition" in Chicago—Do you mean that some one has printed the book surreptitously there—& is or has been selling it?3

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Little is known about P. J. O'Shea, who was an attorney in Chicago, Illinois.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: P H O'Shea | Attorney & Counselor | 163 Randolph Street | Chicago Ill:. It is postmarked: Camden | Dec | 13 | 430PM | 1886 | N.J; Philadelphia, PA. | Dec | 13 | 1886 | Transit; Chicago, Ill. Rec'd | Dec | 14 | 9PM | 1886 | 6. [back]
  • 2. Probably the "nice gift" was payment for the two-volume edition, consisting of Leaves of Grass and Two Rivulets (1876). O'Shea's check for $10 is with Whitman's letter, and images of the check are included along with those for the letter and envelope above. [back]
  • 3. The plates of the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass, printed by Thayer & Eldridge, were sold to Richard Worthington, who for many years printed them without Whitman's authorization. Worthington originally wrote Whitman on September 29, 1879, informing him that he possessed the plates to the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. In a statement mailed to both Richard Watson Gilder and John Burroughs on November 26, 1880, Whitman writes that Worthington initially offered him $250 to "add something to the text & authenticate the plates." This is supported by Worthington's original letter. Worthington went on to manufacture and sell pirated copies of the text, but Whitman accepted royalties from these sales. For more on Worthington and the piracy controversey, see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]
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