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 proprietor 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), which is published online at The Vault at Pfaff's: An Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York, Edward Whitley and Rob Weidman, ed. (Lehigh University). 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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