Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Susan Stafford to Walt Whitman, 1 May 1876

Date: May 1, 1876

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01941

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.

Editorial note: The annotation, "from Mrs Stafford May 1 '76," is in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Eder Jaramillo, John Schwaninger, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Caterina Bernardini, Marie Ernster, Erel Michaelis, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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May 1st/76

Mr Whitman
Dear Sir

I intended to send you A few lines this morning by Harry2 but he went off in such A hurry I did not get time.

It is of him that I wish to speak & I hardly know what to say. I am A Little botherd About him I fear he is giveing you to much trouble I am rather sorry that he left the New Republic office in such A hurry at least untill he had another place as he does not like to work on A farm, he spoke of getting A situation In the park I do not think He can his age & size will Be against him there I will feel better satisfied if he can get in an office or better still fore him to be with you but I fear he is to much trouble to you all ready I do not think it right to impose on the good nature of our friends

I hope Harry will ever be Greatfull to you fore your Kindness to him

I think you will understand me we hope to see you out with us soon.

S M Stafford

Susan M. Lamb Stafford (1833–1910) was the mother of Harry Stafford (1858–1918), who, in 1876, became a close friend of Whitman while working at the printing office of the Camden New Republic. Whitman regularly visited the Staffords at their family farm near Kirkwood, New Jersey. Whitman enjoyed the atmosphere and tranquility that the farm provided and would often stay for weeks at a time (see David G. Miller, "Stafford, George and Susan M.," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings [New York: Garland Publishing, 1998], 685).


1. This letter is addressed: Mr. Walter Whitman | No 431 Stevens St. | Camden N.J. It is postmarked: Kirkwood | MAY 1 | N J. [back]

2. Walt Whitman met the 18-year-old Harry Lamb Stafford (1858–1918) 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. In 1883, Harry married Eva Westcott. 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]


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