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Song of Myself.

Song of Myself.

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Song of Myself.

by WHITMAN, Walt

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  • Hardcover
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About This Item

East Aurora, New York: The Roycrofters,, 1904. From the library of Edward Carpenter, prophet of gay rights and Whitman's rumoured lover First Roycroft edition, number 37 of 100 copies printed on Japanese vellum and signed by the publisher Elbert Hubbard on the limitation page, this a presentation copy, additionally inscribed by Hubbard and six others on a tipped-in presentation leaf to Whitman's friend and rumoured lover, Edward Carpenter. The illuminated presentation inscription reads "This little book is a token of regard to Edward Carpenter", and is signed by William Johnson, Charles H. Kerr, Alice B. Hockhouse, Clarence S. Darrow, Oscar L. Triggs, Jane Addams, and Hubbard, who likely sent the book to Carpenter on the occasion of his 60th birthday. This is an evocative association copy of Whitman's poem, commemorating the transatlantic relationship of two of the most influential figures in the early history of sexual liberation. A philosopher, poet, and early advocate for gay rights, Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was ordained as an Anglican priest before renouncing his religion and becoming a utopian socialist. Through both his published work and private friendships, he became in the early 20th century an important figure in emancipatory politics, teaching many to better understand and express their sexuality. He edited Iolaus: An Anthology of Friendship (1902), the first literary collection celebrating homosexuality, and served as the inspiration for E. M. Forster's novel Maurice. Towards Democracy (1883-1902), his long, unrhymed poem on social and spiritual reform, reveals the considerable impression Whitman made on his thinking and writing; Carpenter would later describe him as "the poet who was destined so deeply to influence my life" (My Days and Dreams, p. 64). Carpenter's first encounter with Whitman's writing was in 1868, aged 24, when he received a "blue-covered" copy of Whitman's collected poems while a student at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Although he had known for some time that he was gay, his experience of reading Whitman for the first time completely shifted his self-perception: "I remember lying down then and there on the floor poring, pausing, wondering... From that time forward a profound change set in within me" (My Days and Dreams, p. 64). It was Whitman's description of love between men that caused Carpenter's epiphany: "What made me cling to the little blue book from the beginning was largely the poems which celebrated comradeship. That thought, so near and personal to me, I had never before seen or heard fairly expressed" (p. 65). Carpenter wrote as much in a letter to Whitman himself, in July 1874: "Because you have, as it were, given me a ground for the love of men I thank you continually in my heart. (And others thank you though they do not say so.) For you have made men to be not ashamed of the noblest instinct of their nature. Women are beautiful; but, to some, there is that which passes the love of women" (printed in With Walt Whitman in Camden, vol. I, p. 160). When Whitman later shared this first letter with Horace Traubel, he described it as "beautiful, like a confession... I seem to get very near to his heart and he to mine" (With Walt Whitman in Camden, vol. I, p. 158). The two corresponded, and in 1877 Carpenter crossed the Atlantic to meet the poet for the first time. At his home in Camden, New Jersey, Whitman greeted Carpenter as an old friend, and Carpenter was drawn to the poet's "infinite tenderness, wistful love, and studied tolerance" (Days with Walt Whitman, p. 38). Despite mutual affection, Carpenter repeated the journey only once, in 1886. While their friendship is well documented, not least by Carpenter himself, a romantic and sexual involvement has also been rumoured. Notable advocates include Allen Ginsberg, who believed a line of "gay succession" connected him to Whitman through their sexual partners: Ginsberg had slept with Neal Cassady, "who slept with Gavin Arthur, who slept with Edward Carpenter, who slept with Whitman" (Gay Sunshine Interviews, vol. I, p. 106). Ginsberg asked Arthur to write up the story of his encounter with Carpenter, in which Carpenter revealed his affair with Whitman. Ginsberg was convinced that Arthur's testament, which was later printed as an appendix to Gay Sunshine Interviews (pp. 126-128), was "the only legitimate documentation of Whitman's sex life that exists, first- or second-hand... you won't find it in any of the books about Whitman" (quoted in the transcript to his class on Whitman at Naropa University, Summer 1981). Carpenter's influence was wide and deep, taking in Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Rupert Brooke, and countless early socialists, including Elbert Hubbard, who in 1895 founded the Roycroft artisan community in East Aurora, New York. The "Roycrofters", as they called themselves, also took inspiration from the arts and crafts movement, establishing a fine bindery, a furniture shop, and a private press. This volume is from their limited edition of Whitman's seminal work. As well as Hubbert, several other social reformers signed their names to present the volume to Carpenter, including publisher Charles H. Kerr; Clarence S. Darrow, lawyer and leader of the American Civil Liberties Union; professor and author on Whitman's poetry Oscar L. Triggs; and Jane Addams, author and leader of the movement for women's suffrage in the US. The diversity of the signatories stands as testament to the breadth of Carpenter's influence. Octavo. Publisher's deluxe binding of red half morocco, marbled sides, spine with five raised bands, lettered in gilt to second and third compartments, remaining four decorated with flower and leaf tools in gilt, spine and covers ruled in gilt, top edge gilt, marbled endpapers, red silk bookmarker. Couple of small marks to head of front cover, touch of finger-soiling to recto of frontispiece, contents otherwise bright and clean. An excellent copy. McKenna 108. Edward Carpenter, Days with Walt Whitman, 1906; Edward Carpenter, My Days and Dreams, 1916; Winston Leyland, ed., Gay Sunshine Interviews, 2 vols, 1978-82; Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, 2 vols, 1906-15.


"Song of Myself" is a poem by Walt Whitman that is included in his work Leaves of Grass.


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Peter Harrington GB (GB)
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Song of Myself.
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Place of Publication
East Aurora, New York: The Roycrofters,
Date Published

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About the Seller

Peter Harrington

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This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
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About Peter Harrington

Since its establishment, Peter Harrington has specialised in sourcing, selling and buying the finest quality original first editions, signed, rare and antiquarian books, fine bindings and library sets. Peter Harrington first began selling rare books from the Chelsea Antiques Market on London's King's Road. For the past twenty years the business has been run by Pom Harrington, Peter's son.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

Raised Band(s)
Raised bands refer to the ridges that protrude slightly from the spine on leather bound books. The bands are created in the...
Morocco is a style of leather book binding that is usually made with goatskin, as it is durable and easy to dye. (see also...
Top Edge Gilt
Top edge gilt refers to the practice of applying gold or a gold-like finish to the top of the text block (the edges the pages...
A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new"...
Vellum is a sheet of specialty prepared skin of lamb, calf, or goat kid used for binding a book or for printing and writing. ...
The page on the right side of a book, with the term Verso used to describe the page on the left side.
The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf....
When a book is described as being inscribed, it indicates that a short note written by the author or a previous owner has been...
A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the...
Association Copy
An association copy is a copy of a book which has been signed and inscribed by the author for a personal friend, colleague, or...
Another of the terms referring to page or book size, octavo refers to a standard printer's sheet folded four times, producing...
The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in...

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