Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 9 July 1877

Date: July 9, 1877

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03981

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

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this is a piece of paper I found in the desk excuse the appearenc

Dear Walt.

I thought I would write a line or so to you and let you know that we are all well.1 Mother got a letter from you stating that you would not be down tomorrow. We ar all most rosted in this place, the sun is so warm and yet we cannot have the window up for if we do the wind blows all of our papers out doors. Walt there is a couple of letters down at our house for you one from England and one from New York, the one from N.Y. is from a bank I forget the name of the bank it is on the outside of the envelope. I wish that I coul get a situation in a good printing office. [Try?] the Democrat of Camden for me, will you?

I should like to see you but I suppose I cannot until you come down as the the paper is running out I will have to stop.

Ever your loving,
Harry Stafford

write soon and come down2


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. On the back of the envelope accompanying this letter Whitman has written a list, as follows: "envelopes at [Altemuss?] | take the white hat to 8th st | shoes (base ball) | see about a pair for Mrs Stafford | stuff for trousers | some stockings & [hokfs?] at Johnny's | coffee" [back]


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