Leaves of Grass (Association Copy) by Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass (Association Copy) by Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass (Association Copy) by Walt Whitman

Leaves of Grass (Association Copy) by Walt Whitman

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Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Publishing: 1882 Res Welsh & Co; Philadelphia Association Copy

An early edition of Walt Whitmans monumental work and one of the greatest masterpieces of  American literature. The present edition is the reprint utilizing slightly altered plates from the 1881-82 "Suppressed Edition printed in Boston months prior. What is most interesting is the association on the front free endpaper. 

 Provenance: this copy is inscribed by Justus H. Schwab to Dyer D. Lum. Both were major figures in the American anarchist movement in the early 1800's. Schwab immigrated into the United States in 1868 where he operated a radical saloon in New York City's Lower East Side (50 East 1st Street). It was advertised as "the gathering-place for all bold, joyful, and freedom-loving spirits". The saloon became an epicenter for social radicalism and was frequented by anarchist Schwabs close friends, Emma Goldman, writers Ambrose Bierce, and Walt Whitman.  

" In 1893 when she [Emma Goldman] was twenty four, she was convicted of unlawful assembly and incitement to riot and then spent 10 months in New York's Blackwell island prison. There she received from her friend Justus Schwab, stacks of books by "Walt Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Spencer, John Stewart Mill and many other English American authors I learned to know and love." (Living My Life, 145)

Schwab contributed significantly to the reputation of the Lower East Side and present-day East Village as a center of transformative social and political movements.

Dyer lum to whom the book was presented is best remembered as the lover and mentor of early anarchy-femist Voltairine de Claire. In 1890 he wrote The Economics of Anarchy. 

"Rent, interest, profit are the triple heads of the monster against which modern civilization is waging war."

— Dyer Lum


Further Notes on the present editions:

"On 1 March 1882, in part at the urging of the The New England Society for the Suppression of Vice, Oliver Stevens, District Attorney for Boston, wrote to Osgood & Co. to advise them that Leaves of Grass was obscene literature and that they would do well to suspend publication and to withdraw and suppress the book. After an unsuccessful negotiation between Osgood, the authorities, and Whitman, Osgood, under threat of prosecution, wrote to Whitman on 10 April of their decision to cease circulation of the book. In May, Whitman received from Osgood all of the plates, unbound sheets, and dies of Leaves of Grass, along with a $100 payment.

Reports vary as to whether Whitman was left with 100 or about 225 complete sets of unbound sheets, but there is no doubt about his next move. While seeking a new publisher for his work, Whitman had a new title page printed and bound together with these sheets. The new title page identified the volume as “Author’s Edition” and added the notation, “Camden / New Jersey / 1882.” The book was bound in green cloth rather than the yellow of the Osgood edition. Several accounts of the editions of Leaves of Grass fail to mention this short run edition.

Before the end of June 1882, Whitman had reached an agreement with Rees Welsh, a Philadelphia company, to receive the plates and publish the book. The Rees Welsh edition of 1882 (a copy of which is also available in Special Collections) sold extremely well, perhaps due to the publicity generated by the unpleasantness of being “banned in Boston.” One source reports that it went through several printings and had sold almost 5,000 copies by December of that year. Another report says the first limited printing of a thousand copies sold in two days; another claims between two and three thousand sold on a single day!! The Osgood plates would pass quickly from Rees Welsh to publisher David McKay, and would provide the basis for all further editions of Leaves of Grass published in Whitman’s lifetime." - Virginia Tech Special Collections: A Rare Bit of Whitman: Leaves of Grass, 1882, The Author’s Edition


Condition: publishers olive green cloth boards, gilt title with butterfly design to spine, frontis and tissue guard present, scattered foxing, slight lean to spine, overall a nice clean copy in Very Good condition