Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Fred Vaughan to Walt Whitman, 9 April 1860

Date: April 9, 1860

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00570

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

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Heidi Bean, Nick Krauter, and Kevin McMullen

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New York
April 9th

How is this, Walt? I have written to you twice since I heard from you.1 Why don't you answer? How about them proof sheets?2 I have not seen any of them yet. Come, Walt, remember I take a deep interest in all that concerns you and must naturally be anxious to hear from you. Mrs Cooper and Robert3 keep asking me every evening "if I have heard from Walt yet." and if you do not write to me soon I am afraid I shall be under the painful necessity of telling a lie to keep up your reputation.—

There is nothing new here.—The weather was disgusting both yesterday and today wet, muddy and chilly.—Did you see the Sunday Courier of April first? It contains an article on "Yankee Bards and New York Critics."—Get it if you can there, if not let me know & I will send it to you. It gives a good description of the Bohemian Club at Pfaffs4 in which you are set down as the grand master of ceremonies. Our folks have shifted me once more. I am now back again in my old position at 168 Broadway, behind the desk.—So please address me here.—Mrs. Cooper and Robert send their love and best wishes.—Write soon and do not forget those sheets. Your friend, "Fred."

Fred Vaughan was a young Irish stage driver with whom Whitman had an intense relationship during the late 1850s. 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."


1. See the letters from Vaughan to Whitman dated March 21, 1860, and March 27, 1860. There are no known surviving letters from Whitman to Vaughan. Whitman did, however, write responses to some of the letters Vaughan sent during Whitman's Boston trip. Vaughan acknowledges receiving replies from Whitman in his letters to the poet of March 21, 1860, March 27, 1860, April 30, 1860, and May 21, 1860. Vaughan acknowledges the receipt of four letters: one received the morning of March 21st, one received after March 21st and before March 27th, one received after April 9th but before April 30th, and the last received on May 21, 1860, as Whitman was preparing to return to New York. [back]

2. Charley Shively writes that "Whitman went to Boston in the spring of 1860 to proofread and put the final touches on the third edition of Leaves of Grass." See Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working-Class Camerados (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 40. [back]

3. Robert "Bob" Cooper and Mrs. Cooper—possibly Robert's mother—were Vaughan's roommates after Vaughan left Whitman's Classon Avenue apartment. [back]

4. Charles Pfaff's beer cellar was located in lower Manhattan. For a discussion of Whitman's activity there, see "The Bohemian Years." [back]


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