Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 4 October 1877

Date: October 4, 1877

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03957

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: Vince Moran, Alicia Bones, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, and Elizabeth Lorang

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Kirkwood N.J.
October 4 1877

Dear Walt

I don't think I will get to come to Camden this week but will be down on Saturday week if nothing happens more than I know of at present.1 Ed2 has gon to the City to day and I have to tend for him and Ben wishes to go to the City on Saturday so I will have to be at the station and will not get off until the train will be gon so I will have to stay home. I want to come bad dont know how I will stay away. I want you to have some place to go when I come down some place where there is plenty of girls. I want to have some fun when I come down this time.

All well at home father went away with Ed today. Debbie is away to her Aunts.

Ever yours
H. Stafford


1. 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]

2. Edwin Stafford (1856–1906) was Harry Stafford's brother. [back]


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