User menu


Mallen, Edward


While not much is known about the early life of Edward Mallen, he is remembered as an artist and frequenter of Pfaff's. William Winter identifies "Edward F. Mullen" as one of the artists who frequented Pfaff’s Cave along with Launt Thompson, George Boughton, and Sol Eytinge, Jr. (Old Friends 66, 88). Walt Whitman, a close friend of his, is also quoted as saying that "Mullin" was "among the leaders" at Pfaff’s (Bohan 134; T. Donaldson 208-209). Fellow artist and Pfaff’s regular Elihu Vedder remembers that Mullin’s landlady characterized him as a "holy terror," a man who "was anything but neat, except in the matter of whiskey: he always took that neat" (Confessions 218). Vedder describes Mullin as being "ever on the verge of a fight, [but] I never remember to have seen him in one" like his pugilistic friend Fitz James O’Brien (219).

Mullen produced illustrations of “the very best grade of comic art” for the pages of Vanity Fair (Seitz 79). In addition, he contributed illustrations to the Saturday Press, the weekly journal published by the Pfaffs (Bohan 135). In fact, according to Bohan, he devised a new banner for the front page of the journal, which aligned more with the content published within it and promoted Bohemians' support for the arts (Bohan 148). According to Thomas Gunn, Mallen shared a desire with other Pfaffians including Fitz-James O'Brien to become an officer during the Civil War (Gunn, vol. 16, 224). Mallen did in fact become part of O'Brien's regiment, as Gunn recounted in his diaries (Gunn, vol. 18, 118). Mallen's connection to his Pfaff’s fellows continued to be strong. William Winter mentions that Mullen attended Fitz-James O’Brien’s funeral along with Frank Wood and Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Winter refers to Mullen as “the quaint, original artist of Vanity Fair” and states that they all rode in the coach together (“Sketch of O’Brien” xxvii).

By 1865, Mallen had returned to New York after contributing to the war effort. During this time, he contributed illustrations to Charles Farrar Browne's work, Artemus Ward: His Travels, which was a tribute to the Vanity Fair editor. In the later part of his career, Mallen's work appeared in a collection of artists' work called Beyond the Mississippi (1869). Following the Chicago fire in 1871, Mullen drew illustrations for the book Mrs. Leary's Cow: A Legend of Chicago (1872) ( In addition to his interest in comic art and engraving, Mullen possessed a talent for oil painting ("Art Notes" 7). His work is remembered alongside the productions of Eytinge, Launt Thompson, George H. Boughton, Wilson Fisk, and Frank Bellew. While an exact date of Mallen's death is unknown, Gay Wilson Allen wrote about a toast given by Whitman during his 1881 visit with Pfaff, during which he toasted a departed Pfaffian name "Mullin," which could likely have been Edward Mallen, his close friend from Pfaff's (Allen 494).