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Herbert Gilchrist to Walt Whitman, 30 November 1880

My Dear Walt:

Your postcard came to hand some little time ago.1 I was pleased to get it, to hear of your being well, & with your friends. I have been extremely busy seeing after the new edition of my father's book;2 the work of seeing such a richly illustrated "edition de luxe" through the press was enormous, but it is done! The binders are now doing their work, & next Tuesday the reviewers will be doing theirs—I defy them to find any fault with the book. I dare say you think it "tall" talk, but I think that it is the most perfectly gotten up book that I ever have seen. My mother has written an admirable memoir of my father at the end of the second vol.

POND MUSINGS (Pen sketch of a butterfly) by WALT WHITMAN

I thought that this was to be the title of your prose volume. I will undertake the illustrations, choosing the paper (hand made), everything except the expense of reproducing, etc. I should say London is the place to have things executed in: if you wish to give photos they must be drawn by an artist and reproduced; no photo ever looked well in a book yet! they haven't decorative importance and don't blend with type. I should suggest that we should imitate the artistic size & style of your earliest edition of "Leaves of G.," a large, thin, flat volume, a fanciful, but as inexpensive as possible, cover written in gold on blue, a waterlily say: but I could think this over. I will design fanciful tailpieces to be woven in with the text; as a frontispiece the drawing that I gave you, retouched by me, and reproduced by the Typographic Etching Company, 23 Farringdon street, London, E. C. All these are only suggestions, which I am prepared to execute in right earnest thought. I read your letter to mother with interest. We like our new house so much, & I am sure that you would. You must come and stay with us & stroll on Hampstead Heath, & ride down into London upon an omnibus & sit to some good sculptor here in London (Boem say). And you yourself could make arrangements with the publishers. With remembrance to friends,

Herbert H. Gilchrist.


  • 1. Herbert Harlakenden Gilchrist (1857–1914), son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist, was an English painter and editor of Anne Gilchrist: Her Life and Writings (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1887). For more information, see Marion Walker Alcaro, "Gilchrist, Herbert Harlakenden (1857–1914)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 2. The second edition of Alexander Gilchrist's The Life of William Blake (London: Macmillan and Co., 1880). [back]
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