Item Details

Rainford & Parris

Literature, modern first editions, children's, illustrated.

A Significant Collection of books by and about Walt Whitman


The collection is that of Mr George Humphreys, one of a group of friends who met in Bolton, UK, and called themselves “The College”. Their meetings soon became dominated by their interest in Walt Whitman, which later turned into regular correspondence with WW and his orbit of friends, and culminated in two visits by two members of the group to meet WW (their subsequent signed books to GH forming part of the collection). The collection also includes a first centennial edition of Rivulets, complete with signed photograph as called for, a signed photograph of WW, a “Deathbed Edition” of Leaves of Grass and some very scarce books relating to WW. (8 books + photo) 1. WHITMAN, Walt Signed photograph of himself, pencil date 1887, with a distinctive, large signature by Whitman below his image. Photo by ”F. Gute Kunst Philadelphia” main image measures 9.5 x 14cms. 2. WHITMAN, Walt. Two Rivulets. Camden, Centennial edition (first edition, second printing), 1876 one of 600 copies. The albumen photograph portrait of Whitman in the front is signed and dated by the author. Additionally, tipped in, is a package label to previous owner (George Humphreys care of Dr Johnston), which bears the author’s signature. The label appears to have been cut out of an envelope from the publisher, the verso having the printed address of David McKay, Publisher and Bookseller together with the handwritten address of Walt Whitman and a postal stamp of 2(?) Sept ’91 – presumably the envelope was opened up so that it could be used as a label for onward shipping for the book, as there are glue spots where it has been attached. The stamp mark on the addressed label side is dated Oct 5 ’91). This actual event was noted by J W Wallace (in Visits to Walt Whitman, George Allen & Unwin, 1917 p.192) who was visiting Whitman during 1891, until November of that year: ‘He had had “a letter from Dr Johnston yesterday, but no special news in it: all seemed to be moving along as usual.” I told him that I had also received a letter from Johnston, and that George Humphreys had been very much pleased with a copy of the centennial edition in two volumes of “Leaves of Grass,” etc., which W had sent him. W. smiled kindly, saying: Likes it, eh?’ Later in the book (p.199) Wallace writes: ‘W. “I had a letter from Johnstone yesterday, and one from George Humphreys, saying that he had got his book and thanking me …’ The last section of the book includes extracts from the letters of Horace Traubel (Wallace writes: ‘The full story of Whitman’s last illness will be published in due course by Horace Traubel. A short installment of it appeared in 1893 in a volume edited by Whitman’s literary executors and entitled “In Re Walt Whitman.” This account consists of extracts from letters which Traubel wrote to us daily (which we forwarded for circulation amongst Whitman’s chief friends in Britain, etc,), and from his letters to Dr Bucke.’ One such entry (p.236) reads ‘Feb. 12th – “I have just had a talk with W., but he was so weak, after passing a bad day, that he was not able to say much or to manifest any great interest. I told him I would go into the next room and send a line to you, whereat he advised me to include his love to you all, with special remembrances to George Humphreys and Fred Wilde and particular affectionateness to J.W.W. He loves you all and his sweet words of you should exalt you for ever.’ 3. JOHNSTON, M.D., John Notes Of a Visit To Walt Whitman, Etc. In July, 1890 Printed for Private Circulation / T. Brimelow & Co, 1890 Inscribed on front cover: “George Humphreys /with kindest regards from his friend / the author”. Laid in a single page reprint from “Bolton Journal & Guardian”, Oct. 8th 1915 concerning Dr J Jonhson taking up war service. Bound in with: 4. WHITMAN, Walt Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman; Preface to the Original Edition, 1855. Published by Trubner & Co., 1881. Only 500 copies were issued in printed wrappers. Inscribed on front cover: “George Humphreys / from J W Wallace / 30-2-92” (J W Wallace co-author of Visits to Walt Whitman, Allen & Unwin 1917) 5. JOHNSTON, J. and WALLACE, J.W. Visits to Walt Whitman in 1890-1891. By Lancashire Friends. George Allen & Unwin 1917. In original dust jacket. Signed by the author to the half-title page. Laid in is a reprinted article from the "Millgate Monthly", October 1917 regarding the forthcoming publication of the book, inscribed by the author "To George Humphreys / Something for a Loner / & a souvenir / JJ". 6. In Re Walt Whitman: Edited by his literary executors, Horace L Traubel, Richard Maurice Bucke, Thomas B Harned. Limited Edition Np. 88/1,000 copies. Inspired by and dedicated to Walt Whitman. Bucke was one of Whitman’s three literary executors. Davis McKay, Philadelphia, 1893 G Humphreys name written on title page. 7. BUCKE, Richard Maurice M.D. Man’s Moral Nature G P Putnam’s Sons, 1879 Inscribed: “George Humphreys from the author with best wishes and regards. Asylum, London, Ontario, Canada. 1 Jan 92.” 8. BUCKE, Richard Maurice M.D. Walt Whitman David McKay, Philadelphia, 1883 Inscribed: “George Humphries [sic] from J W Wallace, Camden Oct. 1891” Sent while Wallace (co-author of Visits to Walt Whitman) was visiting Whitman. "An unconventional book, as much anthology of documents about the poet as a biography. It was also a collaboration; Whitman advised throughout, revised Bucke's text, and wrote significant portions of the book himself" (LeMaster: Walt Whitman, An Encyclopaedia; p.87). 9. WHITMAN, Walt Leaves of Grass “Deathbed Edition”, first printing with date printed as 1891-‘2, 23 South Ninth Street address, yellow endpapers. Myerson A2.7.l2 David McKay, Philadelphia, 1891-‘2 “George Humphreys /with kindest regards from his friend / J Johnson / Bolton / Mar 23rd 1892”.