Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 13 November 1877
Date: November 13, 1877
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.03963
Contributors to digital file: Vince Moran, Eder Jaramillo, Alicia Bones, Nicole Gray, and Elizabeth Lorang
Novemb 13 [illegible]
Dear friend Walt—
Father has been very sick and wishes to see you very badly,1 he toled me to stop and tell you Yesterday but I did not find you in when I was there so I thought that I would write a few lines to you; the first thing that he asked me when I got home was if I had seen you. We thought he was dying Saturday night for a time. I had to go after the doctor about 12 o'clock you must come down as soon as you get this letter, come down on the 4 train from Phila tomorrow if you can any how I will have to close for the present.
1. Walt Whitman met the 18-year-old Harry Lamb Stafford (b. 1858) in 1876, beginning a relationship which was almost entirely overlooked by early Whitman scholarship, in part because Stafford's name appears nowhere in the first six volumes of Horace Traubel's With Walt Whitman in Camden—though it does appear frequently in the last three volumes, which were published only in the 1990s. Whitman occasionally referred to Stafford as "My (adopted) son" (as in a December 13, 1876, letter to John H. Johnston), but the relationship between the two also had a romantic, erotic charge to it. For further discussion of Stafford, see Arnie Kantrowitz, "Stafford, Harry L. (b.1858)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]