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Title: The Bibliography of Walt Whitman
Author: Frank Shay
Release Date: March 25, 2010 [EBook #31781]
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The Whitman Bibliography
This edition of the WHITMAN BIBLIOGRAPHY is limited to five hundred numbered copies, of which this is No. 288
Walt WhitmanTHE BIBLIOGRAPHY
OF WALT WHITMAN
BY FRANK SHAY
Copyright, 1920, by Friedmans'.
To the memory of
Poet, Philosopher, Comrade
"Camerado, this is no book;
Who touches this touches a man."
Walt Whitman's relation to his work was more personal than that of most poets. He was, in a larger sense, a man of one book, and this book, issued and reissued at various periods of the poet's life, was, at each issuance, the latest expression of his development. The infinite care he gave to his work; the continual study of each poem resulted in changes in each edition. The book literally grew with the man and in the present authorized edition of today we have his final and complete utterance.
Whitman's early fugitive work presents to the student a curious anomaly. It gives no intimation of the great nature that later produced Leaves of Grass and Democratic Vistas. In quality it was beneath the standards of the nickle-dreadfuls of yesterday. Bearing such titles as "One Wicked Impulse"; "Revenge and Requital, Tale of a Murderer Escaped"; "The Angel of Tears"; (many of them are in the Prose Works) they appealed to a class to whom thought was anathema and reading solely a pastime. They are didactic to the extreme, presenting the horrible results of sin and the corresponding rewards of virtue. Their value as literature, however, does not come within the province of the bibliographer.
The care Whitman bestowed upon his writings was carried to the mechanical production of his books. Each edition was manufactured under his supervision and when completed represented the latest and highest achievements in commercial bookmaking. Further, he took such an intense personal interest in the sale of his books that he invariably knew at all times the number of copies sold and the number on hand.
The first edition comprised three distinct variations. The first of these, in paper wrappers, are undoubtedly the result of Whitman's impatience at the delays of the binder. Considering that he had a press at his disposal, it is not assuming too much to suggest that while awaiting deliveries from the binder he printed the jackets himself for immediate use. This is the only way to account for the existence of the paper copies. Further proof that this contention is correct is that each copy bears an inscription in Whitman's holograph.
Though Whitman insisted that "the entire edition sold readily" there is little doubt he meant circulated. In fact, they were circulated so rapidly a new edition was required within ten months. This second edition was a dumpy sexto-decimo of nearly four hundred pages. Twenty new poems were added, one of the earlier poems was dropped and all were retouched. This edition did sell rapidly and only fear of public criticism prevented the publishers from reissuing the book. The failure to find a firm to stand sponsor for his book discouraged Whitman to the extent of planning to go West and pioneer. His plans for this venture were completed when Thayer and Eldridge opened negotiations for the book's republication with any new material available. This offer took the poet to Boston to oversee the work and in May, 1860, a substantial volume, with many new poems came from the press. The book went through two editions, a total of between thirty-five hundred and four thousand copies when the publishers failed. The plates were sold at auction and went to a notorious pirate, who, within the next ten years, published and sold over ten thousand copies. Whitman had no control over these crimped editions and forever after they were a torment to him.
It was not until after the Civil War that a new authentic edition was published—again without a publisher. In later issues of this edition Whitman bound in the sheets of "Drum-Taps" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," and in still later issues, "Songs Before Parting." The total number of copies issued is not known but must have been quite small owing to the effect of the lower priced pirated edition.
The fifth edition was published in Washington and attracted little or no attention save in England where the demand for complete and unabridged copies was fostered by Rossetti's emasculated edition. The English demand was so great that Whitman was compelled to reprint one or two new editions. He got around the expense of new plates by inserting "intercallations"—poems printed on separate slips of paper and tipped in.
In 1881, the next Boston edition was issued. With a recognized publisher of Osgood's standing there should have been no question of the final success of "Leaves of Grass." Osgood published all the work of the New Englanders; Longfellow, Lowell, Emerson and Whittier. Whitman was in good company save that the Society for the Suppression of Vice considered "Leaves of Grass" to be bad company and through District Attorney Stevens secured its suppression. Osgood promptly withdrew the book and gladly turned over to the author all unsold and unbound copies and the plates. The plates went to Rees, Welsh and Company, of Philadelphia, who brought out an edition and then dropped from sight. David McKay published an edition from the same plates. During this time certain "special" and "author's" editions were published by Whitman as his own publisher.
After Whitman's death Small, Maynard & Company, of Boston, became the authorized publishers. They were followed in turn by D. Appleton and Company, and Mitchell Kennerley. At this writing Messrs. Doubleday, Page & Co. are the authorized publishers of "Leaves of Grass," and the "Prose Works."
Any bibliography of Whitman's Works can be called but an attempt. His temperamental handling of the plates of the various editions of "Leaves of Grass" resulted in many curious imprints. There may be omissions, I grant, but not serious ones. The work I undertook was a clearing up of the fog which hung about the various Boston editions and setting cataloguers right on the first edition.
I must, at this point, thank Anne Montgomerie Traubel, of Camden, Mr. Walter Bartley Quinlan and Mr. Alfred F. Goldsmith, of New York, and Mr. Henry S. Saunders, of Toronto, Canada, for valuable suggestions and comparison of notes, and Mr. M. M. Breslow for permission to use his very excellent collection of Whitmaniana as a basis for this bibliography.
New York City
The arrangement is chronological, the only practicable method.
In listing titles and imprints I have sought to follow the typography and punctuation of the originals. Where this was not practicable I have inserted punctuation marks to give the matter coherence. Where I have interpolated remarks or descriptions within the titles I have enclosed them in brackets to distinguish them from Whitman's parenthesis.1842
The New World. Extra Series. Number 34. New York, November, 1842. Original Temperance Novel. Franklin Evans; or The Inebriate. A Tale of the Times. By Walter Whitman.
Royal octavo, pp. 31, uncut.
Published as an extra to "The New World."
The last page (32) contains advertisement: "New Works in Press."
Written during Whitman's Bohemian days it was advertised as a thrilling romance by one of the best novelists in this country and had a sale of between 20,000 and 25,000 copies, which netted the author about $200. References to the work in later years irritated Whitman and he refused to discuss it. The work is extremely scarce considering the great number that were published.1855
Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn, New York. 1855.
First edition. Twelve poems.
Imperial octavo, pink paper wrappers.
"Leaves of Grass" printed in block letters across front wrapper, end wrapper blank. Steel engraved portrait, title, uncaptioned preface, xii, Leaves of Grass, pp. 95, end blank.
The author's name appears only in the copyright notice, and in the first poem: "Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos."
The poems, twelve in number, are without titles. In the present authorized edition they appear under the following titles:
Song of Myself.
A Song for Occupations.
To Think of Time.
I Sing the Body Electric.
Song of the Answer (part one).
A Boston Ballad.
There Was a Child Went Forth.
Who Learns My Lesson Complete.
Great Are the Myths.
The preface was later worked into three poems:
By Blue Ontario's Shore.
Song of Prudence.
To a Foil'd European Revolutionaire.
There are three variations of the first edition. The one noted above in pink wrappers is unquestionably the first issue. The second issue is bound in green cloth, gilt edges, and with the title stamped in rustic letters in gilt on the front cover. The last issue of this edition has all the points of the second issue with eight pages of press notices bound in at the front.
Less than nine hundred copies were printed in July, 1855, in the printshop of Andrew H. Rome, 98 Cranberry Street, Brooklyn, the author assisting in the type composition and presswork. The volume was placed on sale at Fowler & Wells, Broadway, New York, and at Swaynes, in Fulton Street, Brooklyn, at two dollars, but was later reduced to one dollar. Very few copies were sold; Whitman giving almost the entire edition to critics and friends.
Catalogued from the Maier copy.
A reprint of this edition was issued in January, 1920, by Mr. Thomas B. Mosher, Portland, Maine.1856
Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn, New York. 1856.
Second edition. Thirty-two poems.
Thick 16mo, green drab cloth, sprinkled edges. Title stamped in gilt on face of binding; on back title and quotation from Emerson's letter "I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career, R. W. Emerson," portrait, same as in the first edition, title, contents, iv, Leaves of Grass, pp. (5)-342, Leaves Droppings (reprint of Emerson's letter; Whitman's letter to Emerson and press notices), pp. 345-384, advertisement. Owing to the storm of criticism which arose against the book, Fowler & Wells, the New York publishers, refused to put their name on the title page, and though they attended to all the details of presswork and distribution, the volume was issued from Brooklyn, without imprint. It is said that there are copies in existence bearing Fowler & Wells imprint, but this is doubtful as such copies are unknown to Whitman collectors. In this edition the prose preface of the first edition is worked into four poems: By Blue Ontario's Shore; Song of the Answerer, part two; To a Foil'd European Revolutionaire, and Song of Prudence; the balance being reprinted in Specimen Days and Collect, 1881.
Owing to the refusal of Fowler & Wells to stand sponsor to the volume, only 1,000 copies were printed and the book was out of print 1858-1860.1860
Leaves of Grass Imprints. American and European Criticisms of "Leaves of Grass." Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, 1860.
18mo, printed wrappers, pp. 64.
A reprint of current criticisms of the first and second editions. Pp. 7, 30, 38, contain articles written and contributed anonymously by Whitman to various New York papers. They were later reprinted in the Fellowship papers and in In Re Walt Whitman, 1893.
It is exceedingly rare.1860
Leaves of Grass. Boston: Thayer and Eldridge, Year '85 of The States.