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William Payne to Walt Whitman, 16 July 1890

 loc.03499.001_large.jpg book sent July 28 Dear Sir.

Kindly oblige me by sending to me a copy of "Complete Poems and Prose"1 price $6.

I enclose a P.O.O. for one pound eleven shillings in English money to cover cost of the Book & its postage to the above named place. If the P.O.O. is not for enough, I will send to you another for what it may be short & if you can register the parcel so as to render safer its receipt by me, pray do so & increase my obligation to you.

Having been away at the  loc.03499.002_large.jpg the British Archaeological Congress2 at Oxford—I have not yet reached home.

I have the honor to be, Sir, your faithful admirer & Servant, William Payne.3 To Walt Whitman Esq North America

Little is known about William Payne, who was a manager of the National Provinicial Bank of England for Portsmouth.


  • 1. Whitman's Complete Poems & Prose (1888), a volume Whitman often referred to as the "big book," was published by the poet himself—in an arrangement with publisher David McKay, who allowed Whitman to use the plates for both Leaves of Grass and Specimen Days—in December 1888. With the help of Horace Traubel, Whitman made the presswork and binding decisions for the volume. Frederick Oldach bound the book, which included a profile photo of the poet on the title page. For more information on the book, see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]
  • 2. In the upper right margin of the paper, just above this part of Payne's letter, Whitman has written a series of four numbers, beginning with "2" and increasing each subsequent number by seven up to "23." [back]
  • 3. This page of Payne's letter is written on paper that includes the following printed banking information: "National Provincial Bank of England Limited." The name of the bank has a wavy line drawn through it in black ink. [back]
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