Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 21 November 1877

Date: November 21, 1877

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03974

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 Bones, Vince Moran, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, Stefan Schöberlein, and Elizabeth Lorang

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Kirkwood N.J.
Nov 21–77

Friend Walt

I received your letter this a.m. was glad to hear from you. Father1 is a gereat deel better to day, he is going out a little he came out yesterday to see me and Homer kill the pig, but he felt so bad he had to go right back to bed again when he got in. I am not feeling very well nor haven't for a week nearly. I have the hed ache all the time, and have had it for a week, I caught cold somehow, I don't know how though. I wish you would bring me down a coppy book, Spencerian if you can find it, No 8, and about 6 pens of the same kind. I will be much oblidged to you if you will. You write and let me know how you are. Received the box all right Monday eve.

Yours Truly,
Harry Stafford

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).


1. George Stafford (1827–1892) was the father of Harry Stafford, a young man whom Whitman befriended in 1876 in Camden. Harry's parents, George and Susan Stafford, were tenant farmers at White Horse Farm near Kirkwood, New Jersey, where Whitman visited them on several occasions. For more on Whitman and the Staffords, 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). [back]


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