Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Harry Stafford, 26 April [1887]

Date: April 26, 1887

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.

Notes for this letter were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977).

Location: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04013

Contributors to digital file: Alex Ashland, Stefan Schöberlein, Kevin McMullen, and Stephanie Blalock



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Camden Tuesday noon
April 26

Harry boy we have missed you two or three days, & both I & Mrs D1 wondered & wanted you—but Ed2 has been here this forenoon & says you are not coming up any more to have the cut dress'd3—So I hope it is healing all right & will be no more trouble—Nothing new or special with me—Sold one of my books to-day,4 which helps along—Am not feeling quite as well as usual—(but nothing particularly bad)—Pretty dull here—If I did not have naturally good spirits I don't know what would become of me, run in here like a rat in a cage day in & day out—But I must not growl—it might be so much worse—If the weather is good I shall be down to Glendale Sunday next—Love to E5 and little D6


Walt Whitman


Correspondent:
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).

Notes:

1. Mary Oakes Davis (1837 or 1838–1908) was Whitman's housekeeper. For more, see Carol J. Singley, "Davis, Mary Oakes (1837 or 1838–1908)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Edwin Stafford (1856–1906) was Harry Stafford's brother. [back]

3. Harry Stafford had a throat operation that required a large incision; see Whitman's letter to Edward Carpenter of May 3, 1887[back]

4. Whitman sent a copy of Leaves of Grass to Edgar R. Tratts (?) in Dublin (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]

5. Eva Westcott married Harry Stafford in 1884. [back]

6. Dora Stafford was the first child of Harry and Eva Stafford. [back]


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