Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 17 July 1880

Date: July 17, 1880

Whitman Archive ID: man.00001

Source: Reproduced by courtesy of the University Librarian and Director, The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester . 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, Grace Thomas, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Nicole Gray, and Elizabeth Lorang

page image
image 1
page image
image 2

All are well at our place they received your papers & letter in due time.1 How long do you intend staying in London, and when do you think of returning to Camden?2 I must say on the day after you left was very much surprised at your sudden departure.

Hoping to receive a letter from you soon. I am your affectionate son

H. L. Stafford

Haddonfield N.J.3
July [1880?].

Dear Walt

Your postal received was glad to hear from you and learn that at the time you wrote you were well and enjoying yourself but sorry to hear you were sick at last accounts

Your Dear Boy


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. This letter is written on a small card, and is in an envelope addressed, in Whitman's own hand, to "Walt Whitman London Ontario Canada"—he sent self-addressed envelopes to Harry and his family in order to encourage them to write while he was on his Canadian trip. The envelope is postmarked: 17 July 1880 at Kirkwood, New Jersey. [back]

3. Stafford conserved space on the page through crosshatch writing, leaving parts of the letter nearly illegible. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.