Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 26 August 1878

Date: August 26, 1878

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03975

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, Grace Thomas, Alicia Bones, Nicole Gray, Elizabeth Lorang, and Eder Jaramillo

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Laurel [Hills?] N.J.1
Aug 26th, 78.

[illegible] Friday, of course I could not do it,2 but I was very sorry when I learned that you wer not coming down Saturday as you predicted when you went away, but we have not been lonely, for we have had the Englishman with us ever since your departure; he has also taken his departure to day, for Egg Harbor,3 I believe, he is counting on having you with him through the fall months or at least he [said he?] was. [illegible] I rather think the mosquetos are too thick for me down there.

Mont4 and I went to "turkey" camp [Sunday?] [illegible] the [illegible] with the [illegible] four times and got all the [money?] they wanted and then they would not shout, dont you think that they wer awful mean? I do, I saw one of them today, and he asked me if I was coming any more, and I told him that I hat went my last time, and he asked me how it was and pretty darn quick told him, he said it was rather mean but "de broders did not get de [illegible] might, I said [illegible] in dar pocket didn't they? and he said yes. They are darned [humbugs?], and ought [illegible] to [illegible] folks are. [illegible] is trying to [crawl?] back to me now but he can't do it he has "cooked his goose" with me now.

I like working at the office very well. It has given me such an awful apetite that Mother says that I will eat her out of house and home, if I keep on, that is a good sign isn't it?

The folks are all well and myself [illegible] in [illegible] like a thrashing— [illegible] Mother is down stairs, talking [illegible] dad's [illegible] the old [illegible] June bugs—dad's been to town to day and—bought himself a new suit of clothes.

Well as this is the second letter I have writtene this evening and I am run out of news, I will have to stop.

Your Loveing Friend,
H.L. Stafford

P.S. Write soon and lit me know how you are

yours &c H.L.S.


1. The envelope for the letter bears the address: Walt Whitman | Camden City | [illegible] N.J. It is endorsed, in Whitman's hand: Aug 28 '78. [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]

3. Egg Harbor is a township in New Jersey. [back]

4. Montgomery Stafford (1862–1925) was one of Harry Stafford's brothers. [back]


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