Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Harry Stafford, 6 February 1889

Date: February 6, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.04005

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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ryan Furlong, Ian Faith, Caterina Bernardini, and Stephanie Blalock

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Feb: 6 '891

Am here yet, dear Hank, in the same place &c, after passing a good hard shaking (& not out of it yet)—but somewhat better—Have written & sent your folks at Glendale2 a longish letter wh' I want you to have, as it is meant as much for you3—I have finished all my books &c. and feel better.

Best love—
Walt Whitman

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. This postal card is addressed: Harry Lamb Stafford | RR Station | Marlton | New Jersey. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Feb 6 | 8 PM | 89. [back]

2. Glendale, New Jersey, was where Harry Stafford's parents, George and Susan Stafford, had moved after leaving their farm at Timber Creek, where Whitman had often visited. [back]

3. Whitman is referring to his February 6, 1889, letter to Susan Stafford. [back]


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