The discovery and publication of a novel by Whitman


Last summer University of Houston grad student, Zachary Turpin, found the only remaining copy of a novel by Walt Whitman. Turpin did large-scale corpus searches of character names he’d found in Whitman’s journals. They were from a set of notes and character sketches. He didn’t know whether Whitman had turned these notes into a novel — he was simply looking. Then he got a hit. A character’s name appeared in an ad in a newspaper that Whitman had contributed to.

Turpin contacted The Library of Congress, which had what’s believed to be the only remaining copy of this newspaper on file and still on microfiche. They emailed him a scan of the first page. He went on to find that the novel had been published in six installments in this paper.

The novel was just published online. The full story of the discovery, a perfect example of scholarship, intuition, and the affordances of technology, is here.

© 2016 Anindita Basu Sempere. 
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