Complete Poems & Prose.
First collected edition of Whitman’s poetry and prose, number 42 of an edition of 600 copies, signed by Whitman on the Leaves of Grass title page. Whitman personally oversaw a number of editions of his books and this is a typically handsome production, gathering together Leaves of Grass (seventh edition, thirteenth printing), Specimen Days and Collect, and the first appearance of November Boughs. This copy is in Myerson’s A binding, most probably the earliest style of three; “[Whitman] ordered 150 copies bound in this style”. This particular copy has a rather special connection with the poet as there is a record of his having personally posted it to the recipient, the memorably named R. F. Wormwood (inscribed by him on the front free endpaper and preliminary blank). Wormwood was editor of the Biddeford (Maine) Journal and Whitman sat down to write to him on the evening on 19 November 1889: “Yours with $5 recd. with order – thanks – I send you the Complete Works, big Vol, (with the little poemet you requested) by Express – If not delivered to you, please send or inquire at the Express office in y’r place. Please kindly send me word without fail (a P O card will do) soon as you get the book right. The price is $6 (not 4.40) – Walt Whitman” (reprinted in Whitman’s Correspondence Volume IV: 1886-1889, NYUP 1969). There is a light marginal pencilling against stanza 9 of Song of the Exposition (pp. 164-65), in Leaves of Grass. Whitman also mentions the occasion in his Day Book on the same date: “sent big book by Express to R. F. Wormwood, Freyburg, Maine… dark rainy day – feeling tolerable” (reprinted in Daybooks and Notebooks Volume II: Daybooks, December 1881-1891, NYUP 1978). It is unusual to be able to make such a special and intimate connection between an author and a particular copy of a book.
Large octavo. Original dark green half sand-grain cloth, paper spine label, marbled sides. Housed in a green quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery. Pictorial title page with portrait of Whitman in profile, 3 other portraits (all as called for). Bookplate of “The Spencers” on front free endpaper. Binding a little rubbed at extremities, a few chips to paper spine label, front inner hinge a little split (with partial exposure of webbing). Also loosely inserted is a letterpress puff addressed to Whitman by the prominent Canadian psychiatrist Richard Maurice Bucke. An unusually nice copy of a rather fragile book, commonly found in less than attractive condition.
Bibliography: Myerson A2.7. m.Don't understand our descriptions? Try reading our Glossary