Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Harry Stafford, 4 September 1883

Date: September 4, 1883

Whitman Archive ID: med.00661

Source: This letter is in the private collection of Kendall Reed. The transcription presented here is derived from Ed Folsom, "Three Unpublished Whitman Letters to Harry Stafford and a Specimen Days Prose Fragment," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 25 (Spring 2008), 197–200. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Stefan Schöberlein, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Nicole Gray

Sept: 4 '83

Dear Harry

Yours of to-day with the 10 has safely reach'd me. Why have you sent it? It is singular & unnecessary—you were entirely welcome, & always have been1

—I have been away most of the last five or six weeks at Germantown 9 or 10 miles out[side] Phila. on a visit to very kind Quaker folks, particular friends of mine2—had a good time—good grub—a horse to my use to drive every day, (which I did, a long drive)—a large library—&c. I am well as usual—nothing very new with my affairs (but the last six or eight months has kind of gone back on me)—I rec'd a letter from Glendale3 from your mother ab't three weeks ago—I have written two letters to her—

—I don't know whether this will reach you as I am not certain of the right address—Havn't seen Mont4 for several weeks, but suppose he is here the same yet.


Harry when you write tell me the exact way to address papers &c. to you through the PO


1. Whitman, to help out with expenses, paid the Staffords when he stayed at their farm, so it is possible that Harry decided to reciprocate on a recent occasion when he visited Whitman in Camden. [back]

2. Whitman began in early 1883 to make frequent visits to the home of Robert Pearsall Smith and Hannah Whitall Smith in Germantown; their daughter, Mary Whitall Smith, had admired Whitman's work during her studies at Smith College and talked her father into taking her to Camden to meet the poet. Whitman became good friends with this wealthy Quaker family and stayed with them from August 4–28 (a little over three weeks, not the "five or six weeks" he claims in the letter). [back]

3. Glendale is near Kirkwood, New Jersey. At various times, Whitman and the Stafford family seem to refer to the contiguous communities of Kirkwood and Glendale interchangeably, as if Kirkwood were part of the larger community of Glendale. [back]

4. Montgomery ("Mont") Stafford was Harry's younger brother. [back]


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