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Walt Whitman to James R. Osgood, 29 May 1881

My dear Mr Osgood

I suppose you rec'd the copy yesterday (Saturday) as I sent it the previous day. You already have my plan—a volume of say 400 pages, (not over 450) handy size, first class (but I know you wouldn't issue any other) in paper, print, binding &c: but markedly plain & simple even to Quakerness—I have a desire that all through even in capitalization, punctuation &c it shall be so—no sensationalism or luxury—a well made book for honest wear & use & carrying with you—to retail at $3—

The book has not hitherto been really published at all—the issues have been reconnoisances—printings in proof for zealous friends &c.

The British market is an important consideration.

The copy I sent will have to be returned before very long to me, for complete minor & technical revision, as I did not wait to finish it after receiving your last letter.

But I reserve any thing further until I hear your definite decision on the main point—the publication1

Walt Whitman


  • 1. Osgood informed Whitman on May 31 that the firm would be "glad to publish the book" and proposed a royalty of ten per cent. Again he inquired about Worthington's pirated books: "We should like to feel clear that you can control the old Thayer & Eldridge plates, so as to stop the issue of any books printed from them" (The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1902], 8:278–279). Osgood returned Whitman's copy at the same time, and enclosed a copy of Our Poetical Favorites as a sample of what the firm proposed to do with Whitman's book. [back]
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