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Walt Whitman to James Redpath, 29 June 1886

I send you "How I made a Book—or tried to"—If you can use it I think it should be in the Review1—It makes 3300 words, & would take from 7 to 8 pages Rev.—The price is $80, & I should want 100 proof sets on slips.

James Redpath (1833–1891), an antislavery activist, journalist, and longtime friend of Whitman, was the author of The Public Life of Capt. John Brown (Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, 1860), a correspondent for the New York Tribune during the war, and the originator of the "Lyceum" lectures. He met Whitman in Boston in 1860, and he remained an enthusiastic admirer; see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, January 4, 1889. He concluded his first letter to Whitman on June 25, 1860: "I love you, Walt! A conquering Brigade will ere long march to the music of your barbaric jawp." Redpath became managing editor of The North American Review in 1886. See also Charles F. Horner, The Life of James Redpath and the Development of the Modern Lyceum, (New York: Barse & Hopkins, 1926); John R. McKivigan, Forgotten Firebrand: James Redpath and the Making of Nineteenth-Century America, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008); and J.R. LeMaster, "Redpath, James [1833–1891]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. Whitman sent the article to Redpath, of The North American Review, on June 29 (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.), and it evidently appeared in the Philadelphia Press and other newspapers associated with Charles Allen Thorndike Rice's syndicate on July 11. He received $80 from Rice on July 10 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). This article, with "A Backward Glance on My Own Road," "How Leaves of Grass Was Made," and "My Book and I" became "A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads" in November Boughs (1888), 5–18. [back]
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