In 1860, Harriet Jacobs and Walt Whitman signed nearly identical contracts with Boston-based publishers Thayer and Eldridge. This article tells the story of Jacobs’s and Whitman’s intersecting journeys to and from Thayer and Eldridge, and considers what this convergence can teach us about the antebellum book market and our scholarly evaluations of it. The first section of the article illuminates the publishing histories of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) by Jacobs and the third edition of Leaves of Grass by Whitman (1860) from the vantage of Thayer and Eldridge, their shared publisher. Thanks to the vast economic support of Thayer and Eldridge, Whitman brought his artistic vision into the literary marketplace, but he did so at the expense of Jacobs. Thayer and Eldridge went bankrupt printing and promoting Whitman’s book, leaving Jacobs without a publisher. Jacobs, in turn, published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by herself. The article’s second section leaves Whitman and Thayer and Eldridge behind to follow Jacobs on her postpublication book tour. Her efforts in these years—traveling from place to place, meeting with readers, and selling her books—are the reason we have Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl today.

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