Selected Criticism

Gray, Fred (1834–1891)
Yannella, Donald
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

One of the Bohemian regulars at Pfaff's, Gray lent the Fred Gray Association his name, although it remains unclear what purposes it might have had. Whitman and the good-humored, jolly Gray were close from before the Civil War; their principal connection seems to have been life at Pfaff's. The poet wrote Gray and Nathaniel Bloom an important and touching letter on 19 March 1863, in which he described the work he was doing in the hospitals, the suffering and loss he witnessed, and talked of life in Washington, including observations on Lincoln.

Son of the homeopathic physician John F. Gray, who lived opposite Madison Square, a few blocks west of the Herman Melvilles on East 26th Street, Fred Gray saw battle at Antietam and reported his experiences to Whitman in 1862. Gray rose to the rank of major and resigned the year the war ended. Following his father into medicine, he practiced in New York and Europe. Whitman had affection for the Gray family and visited them, but the connection apparently dissolved in the 1870s.


Howells, William Dean. Literary Friends and Acquaintance. New York: Harper, 1900.

Hyman, Martin D. "'Where the Drinkers and Laughers Meet': Pfaff's: Whitman's Literary Lair." Seaport 26 (1992): 56–61.

Lalor, Gene. "Whitman among the New York Literary Bohemians: 1859–1862." Walt Whitman Review 25 (1979): 131–145.

Parry, Albert. Garrets and Pretenders: A History of Bohemianism in America. 1933. New York: Dover, 1960.

Stansell, Christine. "Whitman at Pfaff's: Commercial Culture, Literary Life and New York Bohemia at Mid-Century." Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 10 (1993): 107–126.


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