Home page

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Leaves of Grass
Leaves of Grass
Leaves of Grass
2 More
Leaves of Grass
5 More
"Do I contradict myself?Very well then I contradict myself,(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"
Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman, 1855

Details
Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman, 1855
WHITMAN, Walt (1819-1892). Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn: [Printed for the Author,] 1855.

First edition, first issue (BAL’s and Myerson’s binding B), first state of the frontispiece portrait (on heavy paper), second state of the copyright page as usual, second state of p. iv. Myerson determined that this binding state was issued in 262 copies from the total first print run of 800. “The poet and the prophet of democracy ... the whole of Leaves of Grass is imbued with the spirit of brotherhood and a pride in the democracy of the young American nation. In a sense, it is America's second Declaration of Independence: that of 1776 was political, that of 1855 intellectual” (PMM). “Whitman was spending nearly every day there [at the printing office of James and Thomas Rome in Brooklyn] that spring [of 1855], writing, revising, reading proof, even working at the type case, just as he had done twenty years earlier as an apprentice printer. Altogether he set in type about ten of the ninety-five pages of a book that he also designed, produced, published, promoted ... The 795 copies the Romes ran off on their hand press and delivered to the binder were all there were or could be of the first edition. No plates were made; the book was printed from type, and the type distributed" (Justin Kaplan, Walt Whitman: a Life (1982), p. 198). Upon receiving a copy of the book, Emerson wrote to Whitman on 21 July 1855, "I rubbed my eyes a little to see if this sunbeam were no illusion; but the solid sense of the book is a sober certainty. It has the best merits, namely, of fortifying and encouraging." BAL 21395; Grolier American 67; Myerson A2.I.a; PMM 340.

Folio. Engraved frontispiece portrait with tissue guard; a newspaper printing of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 21 July 1833 letter to Whitman mounted on title. Original green cloth, gilt-lettered and decorated in blind on front and back covers, gilt-lettered and decorated spine, plain endpapers (expertly rebacked with original spine laid down); custom full morocco extra slipcase, with inlaid design of a spear of summer grass.

Brought to you by

Heather Weintraub
Heather Weintraub Specialist, Books, Manuscripts, & Archives

More from The Exceptional Literature Collection of Theodore B. Baum: Part One

View All
View All