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An electronic version of this text is available at The Walt Whitman Archive, an electronic scholarly edition of works by Walt Whitman. It is free and open to the public. (Viewing the electronic version of this text will lead you to an external website. Please report dead links to email@example.com.)
Folsom, Ed and Kenneth M. Price. "Walt Whitman." The Walt Whitman Archive. http://www.whitmanarchive.org, 2006.
Type: website ; Genre: biography
The section of this biography titled "The Bohemian Years" gives an overview of Whitman's involvement with the Pfaff's bohemians. Folsom and Price write that Whitman "began in the late 1850s to become a regular at Pfaff’s saloon, a favorite hangout for bohemian artists in New York. Whitman had worked for a couple of years for the Brooklyn Daily Times, a Free Soil newspaper, until the middle of 1859, when, once again, a disagreement with the newspaper’s owner led to his dismissal. At Pfaff’s, Whitman the former temperance writer began a couple of years of unemployed carousing; he was clearly remaking his image, going to bars more often than he had since he left New Orleans a decade earlier."
People Mentioned in this Work
- Arnold, George
- Whitman befriended Arnold while at Pfaff's.
- Clapp, Henry Jr.
- Clapp is mentioned as both a friend of Whitman and an advocate of his poetry.
- Clare, Ada
- Folsom and Price write that Whitman and Clare became "two of the most notorious figures at the beer hall, flouting convention and decorum."
- Fred Gray Association, The
- It was at Pfaff’s," write Folsom and Price, "that Whitman joined the 'Fred Gray Association,' a loose confederation of young men who seemed anxious to explore new possibilities of male-male affection."
- Howells, William Dean
- Folsom and Price write that at Pfaff's "a young William Dean Howells met Whitman; Howells recalled this meeting many years later, when he made it clear that Whitman had already by the time of their meeting become something of a celebrity, even if his fame was largely the infamy resulting from what many considered to be his obscene writings ('foul work' filled with 'libidinousness,' scolded The Christian Examiner).
- O'Brien, Fitz-James
- Whitman befriended O'Brien while at Pfaff's.
- Stedman, Edmund Clarence
- Whitman befriended Stedman while at Pfaff's.
- Vaughan, Frederick B.
- Foslom and Price write, "It may have been at Pfaff’s that Whitman met Fred Vaughan, an intriguing mystery-figure in Whitman biography. Whitman and Vaughan, a young Irish stage driver, clearly had an intense relationship at this time, perhaps inspiring the sequence of homoerotic love poems Whitman called 'Live Oak, with Moss,' poems that would become the heart of his Calamus cluster, which appeared in the 1860 edition of Leaves. These poems record a despair about the failure of the relationship, and the loss of Whitman’s bond with Vaughan—who soon married, had four children, and would only sporadically keep in touch with Whitman—was clearly the source of some deep unhappiness for the poet."
- Vedder, Elihu
- The author mentions that Vedder and Whitman became acquainted during the late 1850s, but does not specifically identify Pfaff's as the location of their meeting.
- Folsom, Ed and Kenneth M. Price. Re-Scripting Walt Whitman: An Introduction to His Life and Work. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005. [more about this work]