Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 17 December 1883

Date: December 17, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03916

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: Alicia Meyer, Stefan Schöberlein, Kirsten Clawson, Nicole Gray, and Elizabeth Lorang

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London Ont Canada
Dec 17th 83

My Dear Old Friend:

Your postals came "OK" and found me pretty well. Was glad to hear from you, even though it was through a postal: as you know, I am down on that kind of business and never pay any attention to them only from you, but it pleases me now to even get that much from an old friend. As I have told you the position I now have is not a desirable one but better than nothing. Have only saw Dr. Bucke once since he came home, that is privately, and that was the day after he arrived. He then said he would by and get something better for me. Will remain here until we find the prospects and if nothing better promises will go to Detroit and from there to Chicago. I am determined to make a hit somewhere and dont forget it. I havent had a blue spell yet and think I can get along without any. By the time I receive this months pay I will be in easy circum, financially and will decide on a turn and let you know. I think I can manage to get pretty well over the N.Y. and Canada by working here and there. I love to travel and see. We have a deep snow here, fell a week ago. Haven't heard from home directly but once since my arrival. With lots of love and a good old time kiss I am ever your boy


Write me a letter soon.

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).


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