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Walt Whitman to Moncure D. Conway, 24 July 1867

Dear friend, 1

I avail myself of an opportunity to send you, by hands of Mr. Philp,2 just starting for London, a copy of my Poems, prepared with care for the printers, with reference to republication in England. The Introduction is written by William O'Connor. All is sent you, so that in case there comes any opening, you may have a proper copy, of latest date, prepared by me, to publish from. Of course I do not expect you, & would not permit you, to make yourself the job of running around & seeking after a publisher. Only, please take charge of the Copy—(I hereby clothe you with full power over it)—& should any good chance befal, it is what I would wish a London edition set up from.

Mr. O'Connor has shown me your note of April 30, last, to him. I wish to send you, as also to those other friends & well-wishers whom it seems I have in England, my true thanks & love.

Many serious & wonderful things have occurred in our dear country, since you & I last met, my friend. But of these I will not now talk. I also have had many deep experiences since.

Mr. Philp leaves Washington this evening, & I must hasten my letter. I will add that I remain well & hearty. For occupation I hold a clerkship in the Attorney General's Office here, of pay sufficient, & duties entirely agreeable & consistent with my tastes.

I may write you further, by mail, about the book, & other matters. Write me, on receipt of this. Farewell.

Walt Whitman.


  • 1. When Walt Whitman wrote this letter, a London edition of his poem was under consideration. On April 30, 1867, Conway had informed O'Connor of a conference, attended by Swinburne, William Michael Rossetti, and John Camden Hotten, the publisher, at which it was decided that a complete edition of Leaves of Grass could not be published in England without "legal prosecution on any publisher" (Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, New York Public Library; Bliss Perry, Walt Whitman [Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1906], 185). This statement was later denied; see Conway's letter to Burroughs (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1931], 47). A volume of selections was eventually decided upon; see Whitman's November 1, 1867 letter to Moncure D. Conway. Since Walt Whitman was determined to guide the London edition, he sent to Conway an "Introduction" which he had composed but had attributed to O'Connor, who was thus to introduce Walt Whitman to English readers. A Walt Whitman manuscript in the Pierpont Morgan Library, "Introduction to the London Edition," is dated August 1867, and was later corrected to read September, 1871; it is reprinted by Clifton Joseph Furness, Walt Whitman's Workshop (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928), 150–154. [back]
  • 2. According to one of Walt Whitman's notebooks (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #109), Philp was to leave New York on July 27, 1867: "(Ought to get in London Aug 9—answer ought to get here last of Aug.)" This may be James B. Philp, listed as a lithographer and engraver in the New York Directory of 1867, or Franklin Philp, of Philp and Solomon, Washington booksellers. [back]
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