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Walt Whitman to Asa K. Butts & Company, 29 December 1873

A. K. Butts,1 Dear Sir,

Yours of 26th rec'd. It looks like something beginning to be done. About Piper's2 bill you can wait till you go personally to Boston.

I have written to O'Kane3 to–day, & I hope you will have no further difficulty in getting the books—I have requested him to send word to you to come & get them. If we get started in the way we talked of, (& I have no doubt we shall,) & satisfaction is felt on both sides, it is certainly my intention that you shall have actual & complete control of the sales—& all supplies.


  • 1. A New York bookseller at 39 Dey Street. Whitman was having difficulties—real or imaginary, as his mother might have said—with booksellers. When Whitman wrote this letter, he had decided to let Butts, as he said, "have actual & complete control of the sales." Commenting on one of the letters of Butts, Whitman observed to Horace Traubel in 1889: "What a sweat I used to be in all the time . . . over getting my damned books published! When I look back at it I wonder I didn't somewhere or other on the road chuck the whole business into oblivion" (With Walt Whitman in Camden [1906–1996], 3:561). Butts went bankrupt in 1874. [back]
  • 2. The Boston agents for Whitman's books; see also Whitman's December 8, 1871 letter to W. H. Piper & Co. Evidently Piper settled the bill in February; see Whitman's February 13, 1874 letter to Peter Doyle, in which he noted the receipt of "a check paying a debt due me a long time, & which I had quite given up." [back]
  • 3. For Thomas O'Kane, a New York book dealer, see Whitman's September 13, 1873 letter. The letter to O'Kane is not known. [back]
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