Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 14 August 1877

Date: August 14, 1877

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03978

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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Woodbury N.J.
Aug 14, 1877,

Dear Walt,1

I have wrote to father and now I think that I will write to you and let you know how it goes with me. I like the place very well but it is dry here I not knowing any one and have no one to put me through the mill (as the saying is:) it is hard to get along. The folkes are very nice but most too perticular, but it is the way of some to be that way you know. When you get up to Camden it will be better for me for I then will have some place to go. I want to get up to see you once a week at least and have a good time, for I cant let my selfe out here they are too mild for that. The old Gent asked me if I was a member of Church and I toled him I was not and he seemed disappointed but hearing that I was not, he then asked me if I went to church and I toled him that I did sometimes wat church I went to and I said I was not of any denomination and he then asked me if father was a church member and I did not know what to tell him, but I got through with it and he said that he would set me at work after dinner so that was the way I spent the first day.

Your truly,
Harry Stafford

Write soon. [Yours?]


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]


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