Remembered primarily as a naturalist writer, Burroughs grew up on a dairy farm in rural New York state, the seventh of ten children.
This brief (50-page) booklet was written, as the prefatory note explains, to "expose a number of weaknesses or worse, in the character of an overlauded personality about whom have grown up many legends, apocryphal and otherwise" (5-6). Like Esther Shepherd's Walt Whitman's Pose, which was written during the same period, this book attempts to de-bunk Whitman's democratic posturing as "Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs." There is brief mention of Whitman's affiliation with a pre-Pfaff's bohemain group (13), but no mention of the Pfaff's period per se.
O'Higgins mentions that Whitman co-authored Burroughs's biography, Notes on Walt Whitman, but says nothing of the time Whitman and Burroughs spent at Pfaff's.
O'Higgins makes a mention of Whitman's involvement with a pre-Pfaff's group of bohemians. O'Higgins, quoting one of Whitman's unnamed friends, writes that Whitman wrote his novella Franklin Evans; or The Indbriate "mostly in the reading room of Tammany Hall, which was a sort of Bohemian resort, and he afterwards told me that he frequently indulged in gin cocktails, while writing it, at the 'Pewter Mug,' another resort for Bohemians around the corner in Spruce Street" (13).
O'Higgins also includes a discussion of Whitman's sexual orientation and says that Whitman "was arrested in his sexual development very near the homosexual level, as several of his poems show" (35).
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015