John Swinton’s family relocated from his native Scotland in 1843, settling in Montreal, Canada, where Swinton worked as an apprentice in the printing industry. Though he briefly entered Williston Seminary in 1853, Swinton’s commitment to journalism led him across the United States; he worked on the Lawrence Republican in Kansas in 1856 as well as the New York Times after he moved to that city.
Younger brother of famous labor activist, journalist, and editor John Swinton, William Swinton enjoyed a varied career as a teacher, would-be minister, war correspondent, professor, and textbook writer. William emigrated with his family from Scotland to Canada in 1843. His schooling took place in Canada and the United States at Knox College and Amherst. He went on to begin his career as a teacher and writer of pieces for magazines.
Born in rural Maine where he spent most of his life, William Symonds attended Bowdoin College and then Harvard’s Divinity School in 1855. Fellow Pfaffian William Winter published Symonds’ collected works 46 years after his death, at a time when "[t]he literary reputation that he had acquired,-- not at any time extensive, though, within a limited circle, unquestionably brilliant,-- was, practically, forgotten" (Life and Writings 7).
Born in rural Chester County, Pennsylvania, Bayard Taylor's ancestors were Quakers with ties to William Penn. Taylor began writing poems as a child and served an apprenticeship at the West Chester Village Record. Rufus Wilmot Griswold, editor of Graham's Magazine, encouraged Taylor to publish his first volume of poetry, Ximena (1844). He traveled to Europe soon after; before leaving, he visited New York and met Nathaniel Parker Willis, a frequenter of Pfaff's and an admirer of Edgar Allan Poe.
Launt Thompson’s career as a sculptor began when he made the acquaintance of sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer in 1848. One year earlier, Thompson had emigrated from Ireland with his widowed mother and settled in Albany, NY. He spent nine years as Palmer’s assistant; during that time he developed a facility with clay modeling and marble carving.
Born in Riga, NY, Mortimer Thomson was a humorist and journalist who wrote under the name Q. K. Philander Doesticks, P.B.--Queer Kritter, Philander Doesticks, Perfect Brick ("Obituary," 5). Thomson acquired this penname while writing for a student magazine at the University of Michigan; although he never graduated from the university, as he was expelled for belonging to a campus secret society, Thomson had a productive career as a journalist and satirist after failing as both an actor and a traveling salesman.
Poet William Ross Wallace was born in Kentucky to a Presbyterian minister of Scotch descent. He may have attended Hanover College in 1833-35 before moving to Bloomington, Indiana (Whicher). Wallace’s first printed poem was “The Battle of Tippecanoe” (1837). He practiced in Lexington before relocating to New York City in 1841, where he remained until his death. Wallace married twice and had three children (two daughters and a son); his marriage to his second wife, Miss Riker, was noted by the New York Post in October 1856.
Born in New York City on New Year’s Eve in 1820, John Lester Wallack was christened John Johnstone Wallack; he later adopted Lester John Wallack as his professional name. He first became interested in drama while being schooled in England at private schools; Wallack admits that he “hesitated long before [he] made up [his] mind to become an actor" (Memories of Fifty Years 24). Wallack made his first professional appearance in Tortesa the Usurer; he used the alias “Allan Field,” so as not to rely on the draw of his father’s name.
Born to a musical family in London, Henry Cood Watson followed suit. He first made his singing debut at the Covent Garden performing Weber's "Oberon" in Novemeber 1829. While still in London, Henry Watson laid the foundation for his career working as both a composer and musical critic ("Watson" 391).
Born in northern New York state, Charles Henry Webb, also known in the literary world as "John Paul" was a journalist and poet. As a young man Charles Henry Webb left his parents' home and spent three years at sea. When he returned to the United States, Web lived in New York City and worked as a journalist for the New York Times before moving to California where he wrote for the San Francisco Bulletin and edited The Californian.
Born on Long Island and raised in Brooklyn, Walt Whitman spent his childhood and early adulthood amid the sights and sounds of New York City and its environs. As a young man Whitman worked as a journeyman printer for several New York newspapers, before ultimately becoming a journalist and editor in his own right. Before committing himself to poetry, Whitman also worked intermittently as a schoolteacher, a carpenter, and a writer of sensational prose fiction.
Born second in a family of nine children in Maine and schooled in Boston, Willis attended Yale and traveled extensively in Europe. His sister was Fanny Fern, a member of the Pfaffian crowd. In 1831 he left Boston to join the editorial staff of the New York Mirror as a traveling correspondent discoursing on matters of taste and fashion. Like his fellow Pfaffians, Willis expressed admiration for the work of Edgar Allan Poe and even claimed an acquaintance with him.
The unofficial biographer of the Pfaff’s crowd, William Winter was born in coastal Massachusetts, and his mother died when he was young. Winter attended school in Boston; he also went to Harvard Law School but decided not to practice ("William Winter, 19). By 1854 he had already published a collection of verse and worked as a reviewer for the Boston Transcript; he befriended Pfaffian Thomas Bailey Aldrich after reviewing a volume of his poetry. He relocated to New York in 1856 "because he believed [the city] offered the best field for writers" (Levin 153).
Theodore Winthrop was born in Connecticut as a descendant of John Winthrop, the first governor of Connecticut (G. Curtis 7-8). He attended Yale where he studied Greek and philosophy and received the distinction of the Clark scholarship; he and nurtured early ambitions of pursuing religious or academic life. Though he was a man of faith, he was also a man shadowed by poor health throughout his life. Undeterred by these physical constraints he traveled widely in Europe and the United States even though he was subject to bouts of illness everywhere from Panama to the Pacific Northwest (G.