- Specimen Days
Walt Whitman. Specimen Days & Collect. Glasgow: Wilson & McCormick, 1883.
Around 500 copies of Specimen Days & Collect were printed in America for sale in Britain. This was a distinctive reprinting made especially for the Glasgow publisher. In contrast, some of Whitman’s earlier books simply utilised sheets of an American printing, with a pasted-over label bearing the publisher’s name, or a pasted-in substitute title page.
Despite Whitman’s renowned affinity with nature, the frontispiece photograph was staged: the butterfly is of cardboard, affixed to his finger with wire.
Walt Whitman. Specimen Days in America. London: Walter Scott, 1887.
Whitman had just suffered a severe stroke prior to the publication of this English edition of Specimen Days. In his appended note to English readers, he describes himself as “quite dilapidated and even wreck’d bodily from the paralysis … but in good heart.”
This book is open at the section entitled ‘Hospital Scenes and Persons’ in which Whitman describes how he writes letters to loved ones on behalf of injured soldiers, many of whom have suffered gruelling injuries.
Walt Whitman. Specimen Days. Boston: David R. Godine, 1971.
Specimen Days contains Whitman’s most personal prose writings, especially in relation to his extensive accounts of working as a volunteer nurse in Washington during the Civil War. A supporter of the Northern cause, he gained a deep appreciation of the courage and devotion of both Union and Confederate soldiers.
The displayed pages contain Whitman’s account of ‘Typical Soldiers’. Whitman befriended scores of convalescent soldiers during the war years. He mentions one of his brothers, George Washington Whitman (1829-1901), who was involved in several major Civil War conflicts.