Saturday, February 1, 2014

Recent finds: First printing of Julia Ward Howe's 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' (Civil War / Americana)

A recent find was Volume 9, January - June 1862 of Atlantic Monthly Magazine which features Julia Ward Howe's first printing of 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'. Published in the February issue, Howe was inspired to write Battle Hymn after she and her husband visited Washington, D. C., and met President Lincoln at the White House in November 1861. During the trip, her friend James Freeman Clarke suggested she write new words to the song "John Brown's Body", which she did on November 19. The song was set to William Steffe's already-existing music. It quickly became one of the most popular songs of the Union during the American Civil War.

This volume also contains the first printing of Henry David Thoreau's essay, 'Walking', first published in the June 1862 issue.  One of the first previously unpublished essays that were published upon Thoreau's death in May, 1862, 'Walking' is one of his most famous essays - which celebrated the virtues of immersing oneself in nature and lamented the inevitable encroachment of private ownership upon the wilderness. (D49 of Raymond Borst 'Henry David Thoreau - A Descriptive Bibliography', First Appearance Contributions to Magazines and Newspapers)