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"Walt Whitman" from the Walt Whitman Archive

Folsom, Ed and Kenneth M. Price. "Walt Whitman." The Walt Whitman Archive., 2006.

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

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."

The Fred Gray Association

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

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

Whitman befriended Stedman while at Pfaff's.

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.