- Later Works
Walt Whitman. Prose Writings of Walt Whitman. London: Walter Scott, 1888.
This Walter Scott Victoria Library edition of Prose Writings of Walt Whitman comprises Scott’s editions of Specimen Days in America (1887) and Democratic Vistas and Other Writings combined into a single volume. It is the only known copy of this book (the third English edition, first printing, second issue).
Walt Whitman. Democratic Vistas: and Other Papers. London: Walter Scott; Toronto: W.J. Gage & Co., 1888.
Whitman’s first prose collection, Democratic Vistas, was first printed in 1871, the same year as the fifth edition of Leaves of Grass. It comprises three essays that outline Whitman’s ideas about the role of democracy in establishing a new cultural foundation for America. Democratic Vistas remains an important supplement to Whitman’s poetry, as well as an example of his philosophy of government.
The displayed book, a later Scott Library edition, is an item of bibliographical curiosity. Despite the stated date of 1888, this copy is a third issue, meaning the actual date is not before 1892. It is also the only recorded copy in this binding.
Walt Whitman. November Boughs. Paisley; London: Alexander Gardner, 1889.
Whitman’s miscellaneous collection of prose and poetry materials entitled November Boughs was first published in 1888. It begins with the essay ‘A Backward Glance O’er Travel’d Roads’, in which Whitman summarises his life in poetry, as well as the influences and purposes behind Leaves of Grass. In contrast to the spirit of bravado that marked the first edition of 1855, the aged Whitman now concludes, with serene frankness, “I have not gain’d the acceptance of my own time, but have fallen back on fond dreams of the future.”
The displayed book is a Scottish imprint, of which about 250 copies were produced. It includes Whitman’s essay ‘Robert Burns as Poet and Person’.
Walt Whitman. Good-Bye My Fancy: 2nd Annex to Leaves of Grass. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891.
Whitman began compiling his final miscellany of poetry and prose, Good-Bye My Fancy, in late 1890. 1,000 copies were published in the spring of 1891.
In these poems and prose jottings, Whitman reflects on his life, his poetry, the condition of aging and illness, and death. He also evokes a sense of awed admiration for nature’s renewal, as in ‘Unseen Buds’: the germs of life awaiting “Like babes in wombs, latent, folded, compact, sleeping”.
The stereotype plates from this separate edition were reused, with altered pagination, when this ‘second annex’ was included in the so-called ‘Deathbed Edition’ of Leaves of Grass later in 1891.