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Walt Whitman to Thomas W. H. Rolleston, [20 August 1884]

Aug 20 '84 Sent Rolleston | 28 Terrassen Ufer Dresden Saxony.

Two or three little matters I will write to you about.1 How is the publication of the German version getting on? My guess would be that when fairly afloat it might have quite as much sale here in the United States as in Germany—perhaps more. Would of course require a little while to get bruited about—but then I think quite probable a steady demand would set in. Two or three central book jobbing houses should be fixed upon, one in New York, one in Chicago, & one in San Francisco—

With an eye to this I would like early copies sent to

  • Wm Sloane Kennedy, Belmont, Mass:
  • J L & J B Gilder, Critic office, 18 Astor Place New York City
  • Prof. Edward Dowden, Temple Road Winstead Rathmine's, Dublin Ireland
  • Talcott Williams, Daily Press cor 7th & Chestnut Sts Phila
  • Editors, Daily Republican newspaper Springfield Mass
  • Dr Karl Knortz cor Morris av and 155th st New York
  • R W Gilder Century Magazine, Union Sq N Y
All the above would quite certainly announce and review the German trans.

Thomas William Hazen Rolleston (1857–1920) was an Irish poet and journalist. After attending college in Dublin, he moved to Germany for a period of time. He wrote to Whitman frequently, beginning in 1880, and later produced with Karl Knortz the first book-length translation of Whitman's poetry into German. In 1889, the collection Grashalme: Gedichte [Leaves of Grass: Poems] was published by Verlags-Magazin in Zurich, Switzerland. See Walter Grünzweig, Constructing the German Walt Whitman (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1995). For more information on Rolleston, see Walter Grünzweig, "Rolleston, Thomas William Hazen (1857–1920)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This is a draft letter. On August 7, 1884, Rolleston informed Whitman of the progress of his translation. Despite Rolleston's willingness to subsidize the German edition, he was not able to publish it (see the letter from Whitman to Rolleston of September 20, 1884). [back]
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