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Shanly (Shanley), Charles Dawson (1811-1875)

Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Poet, Illustrator, Playwright

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).