Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Fred Vaughan to Walt Whitman, 19 March 1860

Date: March 19, 1860

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00565

Source: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The transcription presented here is derived from Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working-Class Camerados, ed. Charley Shively (San Francisco, California: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 41-42. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Eric Conrad, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter

Dear Walt,

I1 am sorry I could not see you previous to your departure for Boston. I called in at Pfaffs two evenings in succession but did not find you on hand.2

I am quite anxious to hear about how matters are progressing with you.

Write to me as soon as you can make it convenient. Care of Man- Ex Co. 140 Chamber St., New York.

Every thing remains as usual in New York. I have seen the Atlantic for April.3 "good, bully for you."—

Yours as Ever,


1. Fred Vaughan was a young Irish stage driver with whom Whitman had an intense relationship during the late 1850's. For discussion of Vaughan's relationship with Whitman, see Jonathan Ned Katz, Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 123–132; Charley Shively, Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working-Class Camerados (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 36–50; Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price, Re-Scripting Walt Whitman: An Introduction to His Life and Work, "Chapter 4: Intimate Script and the New American Bible: "Calamus" and the Making of the 1860 Leaves of Grass." [back]

2. Charles Ignatius Pfaff (ca. 1819–1890) was the proprieter of several eating and drinking establishments in New York. He was the owner of Pfaff's, a basement beer cellar, located at 647 Broadway, where a group of American Bohemians—that included Whitman—gathered in the antebellum years. For a history of Pfaff's, see Stephanie M. Blalock's open access, online edition, "GO TO PFAFF'S!": The History of a Restaurant and Lager Beer Saloon (Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 2014), and for more on Whitman and the American bohemians, see Joanna Levin and Edward Whitley, ed., Whitman Among the Bohemians (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2014). [back]

3. Whitman published the poem "Bardic Symbols" in the Atlantic Monthly 5 (April 1860): 445–447. The poem was revised as "Leaves of Grass. 1" in Leaves of Grass (1860) and reprinted as "Elemental Drifts," Leaves of Grass (1867). The final version, "As I Ebb'd With the Ocean of Life," was published in Leaves of Grass (1881–82). [back]


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