Exceedingly rare privately printed edition of Walt Whitman's Civil War remembrances, including seeing Lincoln every day, boldly inscribed to his beloved sister Mary
Rare signed book: Memoranda During the War. First edition, second issue with 'Remembrance Copy' leaf. Camden, NJ: Printed for the Author by New Republic Print, Federal St., 1875-76. Hardcover bound in the original plum cloth with gilt-stamped title, edges gilt, stiff light green endpapers embossed with flowers, 5.25 x 8, 68 pages. Boldly signed and inscribed on the prefatory 'Remembrance Copy' page in ink, "[To] my dear sister Mary, [From] her brother Walt, with his love." Whitman also writes "Sister" above the 'personal note' printed below, which offers some autobiographical notes and descriptions of the two portraits that follow. A leaf at the end advertises the sale of new editions of Leaves of Grass, Two Rivulets, and Memoranda During the War. Autographic condition: fine. Book condition: VG/None, with sunning to spine, some minor stains to endpapers and portraits, and a restored abrasion to the rear board. Accompanied by a handsome custom-made three-quarter morocco clamshell case.
Of this rare book, Whitman bibliographers Wells and Goldsmith state that 'almost every copy was autographed and it is improbable that more than a hundred copies were issued.' The book is a compilation of Whitman's notes from the end of 1862 to 1865 during his visits to the sick and wounded in hospitals in and around Washington, D.C. On page 22, he mentions seeing President Abraham Lincoln almost every day.
According to Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), Whitman maintained a close relationship with his younger sister, Mary Elizabeth. She appears in several of Whitman's stories, often as the subject of Whitman's inquiries about loss of innocence: namely, she appears as an unnamed fourteen-year-old in his story 'My Boys and Girls' (1844) and is presented as the sweet Sister Mary in his children's story 'The Half-Breed: A Tale of the Western Frontier' (1845). Though she did not carefully follow his literary career, she provided an idyllic escape for him at her home in Greenport, Long Island, where Whitman paid frequent visits. An exceedingly rare Whitman book in its own right, this superior example is elevated by its close familial association.