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Walt Whitman to James R. Osgood & Company, 12 April 1882

Dear Sirs

Yours of 10th just rec'd1—If you desire to cease to be the publishers of Leaves of Grass unless I make the excisions required by the District Attorney—if this is your settled decision—I see indeed no other way than "some reasonable arrangement for turning the plates over" to me—What is the am't​ of royalty due me, according to contract, from the sales altogether? & what is your valuation of the plates?

Walt Whitman


  • 1. Osgood & Co. wrote to Whitman on April 10: "We have laid before the District Attorney the alterations proposed by you. They are not satisfactory. . . . As we said at the outset we do not wish to go into court in connection with this case. Therefore as your views seem to be irreconcilable with those of the official authorities there seems no alternative for us but to decline to further circulate the book. We should be open to any reasonable arrangement for turning the plates over to you." On April 13 the publisher informed Whitman that the royalty due him was $405.50 and that the cost of the plates was $475. In return for a receipt for the royalty, the firm was willing to turn over to Whitman the plates, the steel portrait and 225 copies of the book in sheets. As Whitman did not reply, the firm wrote again on May 4. The poet arranged better terms in the final settlement (see the letter from Whitman to Osgood & Company of May 23, 1882). [back]
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