Charles Dawson Shanly emigrated to New York City from Ireland via Canada and was working as the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Public Works in 1857. In New York City during the late 1850s and 1860s, Shanly was productive as a journalist and editor at such publications as Vanity Fair, Mrs. Grundy, the New York Leader, the Atlantic Monthly, and the New York Saturday Press. An artist and poet as well as a journalist, Shanly garnered limited but not negligible notoriety with his publications A Jolly Bear and his Friends and The Monkey of Porto Bello (both 1866). He also may have written a burlesque, Cinderella, that debuted at the Winter Garden on September 9, 1861 (Odell 7:389).
Junius Browne contends that Shanly was part of the "fraternity" that met at Pfaff’s restaurant, that "had late suppers, and were brilliant with talk over beer and pipes for several years." Browne claims "Those were merry and famous nights, and many bright conceits and witticisms were discharged over the festive board" (156-7). William Winter describes Shanly as "a charming essayist and graceful poet, quaint in character, sweet in temperament, modest and gentle in bearing" (Old Friends 64-65). He goes on to say that Shanly was "a much loved companion . . . modest, silent, patient, reticent--everything that is meant by the name of gentleman” (94-95).
Shanly is mentioned as one of the "bright spirits" who met at Pfaff's.[pages:10]
Winter includes an appendix in which he eulogizes Shanly.
Browne describes him as "a well-known litterateur" and a contributor to Vanity Fair and other contemporary publications (156).
He was part of the "fraternity" that met at Pfaff's resturant, that "had late suppers, and were brilliant with talk over beer and pipes for several years." Browne claims "Those were merry and famous nights, and many bright conceits and witticisms were discharged over the festive board" (156-7).[pages:156-157]
Epstein provides an alternate spelling of his last name as "Shanley"[pages:55]
Figaro writes that Shanly and Robert Heller were with him the night he caught "enthusiasm" at a performance of Belphagor. Shanly also caught "enthusiasm" that evening (4).[pages:4,5]
Figaro lists Shanly as one of the parties involved in the Saturday Press (56).[pages:56]
Mentioned as one of the Bohemians at Pfaff's "gossiped" about by Rufus B. Wilson in a "reminiscent letter to the Galveston News."[pages:479]
Gunn mentions Shanley when describing an evening at Pfaff's, "Sears and one Shanley present, the last an Irishman, not unlike O'Brien. I sat half- an-hour drinking with them; the talk was dreary enough, Phallic, newspaperish and the like. De Walden came in about midnight, with his white beard, and laying his gouty leg upon a chair, treated the party and talked Bohemianish about Addey's "Momus" enterprise, scoffing at that ill- advised ex-bagman and "the Almighty Newman." The Irishman, Shanley, seemed to have some wit in him;"[pages:35]
Gunn describes a conversation between Shanley and Morris, "Met Morris conversing with Shanley in Nassau Street; the latter talked easy Irish sympathy about Wilkins and said he had heard a letter from O'Brien read, in which the Baron of Inchiquin stated that he had been officiating, in his turn, as cook to his company, producing an Irish stew, which, of course, was voted an immense success."[pages:162]
Gunn describes an encounter with Shanley: "Across the street I met Shanley who talked of O'Brien, naming the Sergeant and stating that O'B[rien]. had exhibited to him (Shanley) a revolver on Friday, saying that he expected to have to use it on that particular person" (48).
Gunn finds Shanley, the temporary editor, at the Vanity Fair office: "Left them, looked into 'Vanity Fair' office, to see Shanley, now installed as editor, during the absence of 'Artemus Ward,' while lecturing" (198).
Gunn describes a conversation with Shanely: "To 'Vanity Fair'; saw Shanley, who said that O'Brien had succeeded in Washington, in getting an appointment on the staff of Colonel Lander – he with whom Hitchings went to the Rocky Mountains. Frank Wood is now in Boston, as 'hagent' for one of the Bateman girls; he did ultra-anglo- phobic foaming of the mouth at the giving-up of Mason and Slidell, 'until,' said Shanley, 'I had to give him a regular d__ning – to tell him he talked like a d____d fool!'" (204-205).[pages:48, 198, 204-205]
Described by Lalor as a "tangential figure" "noted mainly for his gentlemanly demeanor, writer of essays and poetry" (3).[pages:3]
Shanly was one of the men credited with bridging newspaper row and the stage (60).
Shanly was part of the group that restarted the Saturday Press (115).[pages:60, 115]
A member of Clapp's "cabinet" in the "Kingdom of Bohemia" and at the Saturday Press.[pages:192]
A writer for The Saturday Press.[pages:39]
Winter includes an appendix in which he eulogizes Shanly.
Wrote a burlesque Cinderealla that debuted at the Winter Garden Sept. 9, 1861. Ada Clifton was a member of the cast.[pages:389]
Quelqu'un mentions that one of his songs is featured in The Monkey Boy at Laura Keene's Theatre (3).[pages:3]
Seitz names Wood, Mullen, and Shanly as staff members at Vanity Fair who were inspirations for characters in Artemus Ward's Woshy-Boshy.[pages:90, 97, 173, 174, 221, 278, 282]
He is listed as one of the Pfaffian writers that "have fallen into obscurity." Stansell wonders how much influence these writers weilded on Whitman's literary career (108).[pages:108]
"It is a striking fact that the number of young men prominently connected with the New York press as writers is greater now than at any former period...the chief editorial work in these journals is done by men between the years of twenty-five and forty" (4).
"Charles D. Gardette, John Alden, Barry Gray, C.D. Shanley, and Dr. Stiles of the Historical Magazine, might all be much older and still young" (4).[pages:4]
He is listed by Winter as one of the Bohemians who frequented Pfaff's Cave (88).
Winter comments on Shanly's talent: "His poems called 'The Briar Wood Pipe' and 'Rifleman, Shoot Me a Fancy Shot' ought to long preserve his memory, and perhaps they will. To him it was a matter of indifference. I have never known a writer who was so abolutely careless of literary reputation: indeed, it was not until we had been acquainted for several months that I learned that he had written anything" (94-95).
Winter claims that Shanly never discussed his writings with him until Shanly was preparing to leave New York for Florida in 1875. During this conversation, Shanly asked Winter to be his "literary executor" in the event a publisher ever wanted to publish his works. Shanly died in Florida, April 14, 1875 (95).
In response to Howells' criticisms of the Bohemians and in a discussion of their writing, Winter states: "Revelry requires money: at the time Mr. Howells met those Bohemians, -- with the 'damp locks' and the 'frenzied eyes,' -- it is probably that the group did not possess enough money among them all to buy a quart bottle of champagne. Furthermore, they were writers of remarkable quality, and they were under the stringent necessity of working continually and very hard: and it seems pertinent to suggest that such a poem, for instance, as George Arnold's 'Old Pedagogue,' or Fitz-James O'Brien's Ode in commemoration of Kane, or Charles Dawson Shanly's 'Walker of the Snow,' is not to be produced from under the stimulation of alcohol. Literature is a matter of brains, not drugs. It would be equally just and sensible for American criticism to cherish American literature, and to cease from carping about the infirmities, whether actual or putative, of persons dead and gone, who can no longer defend themselves" (93).
Of the poets associated with the Bohemian period, Winter states that Shanly's name is one among a list of "names that shine, with more or less lustre, in the scroll of American poets, and recurrence to their period affords opportunity for correction of errors concerning it, which have been conspicuously made" (292).
C.D. Shanly is listed as one of the "friendly contributors" to the "Saturday Press," who "were glad to furnish articles for nothing, being friendly toward the establishment of an absolutely independent critical paper, a thing practically unknown in those days" (294-295).[pages:64-65,88,93,94-95,292,294-295]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015