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Fred B. Vaughan to Walt Whitman, 17 May 1860

 loc_vm.00790.jpg Dear Walt.—

What the devil is the matter?2 Nothing serious I hope.3—It seems mighty queer that I cannot succeed in having one word from you.—I swear I would have thought you would be the last man in this world to neglect me.—But I am afraid.—

Lizzie is married!, Johnny is dead! Walt has forgotten.

Such is life, Yours, Fred.  loc_vm.00791.jpg  loc_vm.00792.jpg  loc_vm.00793.jpg

Fred Vaughan was a young Irish stage driver with whom Whitman had an intense relationship during the late 1850's. For discussion of Vaughan's relationship with Whitman, see Jonathan Ned Katz, Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 123–132; Charley Shively, Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working-Class Camerados (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 36–50; Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price, Re-Scripting Walt Whitman: An Introduction to His Life and Work, "Chapter 4: Intimate Script and the New American Bible: "Calamus" and the Making of the 1860 Leaves of Grass."


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Care Thayer & Eldridge | Publishers | Boston Mass. It is postmarked: New-York | May 18 | 1860. The envelope includes the printed address of the Manhattan Express Company's General Office (168 Broadway, N. Y.). Vaughan worked for the company in 1860. [back]
  • 2. In March 1860, Whitman traveled to Boston to meet with William W. Thayer and Charles W. Eldridge of the publishing firm Thayer and Eldridge. When Vaughan wrote this letter, Whitman was overseeing the printing of the third edition of Leaves of Grass, which would be published by the firm later that year. For more on Whitman's relationship with Thayer and Eldridge, see "Thayer, William Wilde (1829–1896) and Charles W. Eldridge (1837–1903)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 3. There are no known surviving letters from Whitman to Vaughan. Whitman did, however, write responses to some of the letters Vaughan sent during Whitman's Boston trip. Vaughan acknowledges receiving replies from Whitman in his letters to the poet of March 21, 1860, March 27, 1860, April 30, 1860, and May 21, 1860. Vaughan acknowledges the receipt of four letters: one received the morning of March 21st, one received after March 21st and before March 27th, one received after April 9th but before April 30th, and the last received on May 21, 1860, as Whitman was preparing to return to New York. [back]
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