Born in Auburn, NY, Frank Wood's literary career began around 1858. During this year, he wrote for one of the publications of Frank Leslie. He would become the first editor of Vanity Fair, before going on to be a contributor to the Pfaffian newspaper, The Saturday Press (Winter, Brief Chronicles, 337). It was not until 1863, though, that scholar Mark Lause argues that Wood gained success in the literary world with his play, Leah the Forsook (Lause 59). On the eve of the Civil War, Wood was living in Charleston, South Carolina where he was serving as a correspondent for The New York World. With the start of the war, he moved back North, where he busied himself with a variety of activities, including delivering a lecture on his time in South Carolina titled "Down South in Succession Times." He also edited a Brooklyn daily paper and wrote theater criticisms for the The Illustrated News, among several other stints in the literary world of New York (Winter, Brief Chronicles, 337).
Numerous historical sources place Frank Wood at Pfaff’s. Whitman himself referred to the man as one of the regulars (CW 5:21). In The Great Metropolis; A Mirror of New York (1869) Junius Browne notes that Wood was part of the "fraternity" that met at Pfaff’s who "had late suppers, and were brilliant with talk over beer and pipes for several years... Those were merry and famous nights, and many bright conceits and witticisms were discharged over the festive board" (156-7). Winter remembers Henry Neill and Frank Wood as "young journalists of fine ability," stating that they "were frequently present" at Pfaff’s (Old Friends 65).
Wood’s career testifies to his interest in theater. William Winter notes that Wood wrote theatrical notices for Illustrated News and was a dramatic critic for the Spirit of the Times. A playwright like fellow Pfaff’s frequenter John Brougham, Wood penned a "clever burlesque" Leah the Forsook that attracted Augustin Daly’s attention and began their collaboration (Odell 7:550); Wood then served as Daly’s assistant for Taming a Butterfly. Leah seems to have been the more successful production. Wood also wrote The Statue Bride and the burletta The Marble Maiden, or the Ghost of Cologne, played by Keene’s company on Sept. 25, 1863. (7:550-551,617). Observing that Wood also translated Michelet’s “L’Amour,” William Winter contends that “As a writer, [Wood] was clear, vigorous, often humorous, always manly and truthful. As a man, he met frankness with frankness, and did his duty faithfully, and gained true friends who do not forget him” (Old Friends xxxvii). Moreover, he is remembered among several individuals who "bridged [the gap between] Newspaper Row and the stage" (Lause 60).
Along with other members of the Vanity Fair staff Edward F. Mullen and Charles Dawson Shanly, Wood was the inspiration for a character in Artemus Ward’s Woshy-Boshy; or, The Prestidigitating Squaw of the Snakeheads which began on November 2, 1861 (Seitz 90); perhaps because of this, Wood was also remembered in 1888 as a colorful character and became one of the bohemians “gossiped” about by Rufus B. Wilson in a “reminiscent letter to the Galveston News” (Current Literature 479). Like many of the frequenters of Pfaff’s, Wood died young, at twenty-three years old, without realizing his full potential; in the 1875 obituary for Henry Clapp, editor of the Saturday Press and “king” of Pfaff’s, Wood is described as "the invalid cynic Frank Wood -- too bright, if not too beautiful, to last" (“Obituary” 7). Pfaff’s frequenter and theater critic William Winter includes Wood among the “vanished comrades” Symonds, Wilkins, Neill, and O’Brien whose names are “not to be spoken without a sigh of regret” (Old Friends xxxvii); Winter remarks of Wood and fellow journalist Henry Neill that "both of them died in youth, with their promise unfulfilled" (65). Upon O’Brien’s death, Wood wrote an emotional tribute which was published in the New York Leader on April 12, 1862, and was later anthologized by Winter in his biography about O’Brien. Wood had been selected by O’Brien himself, along with Thomas E. Davis, as the literary executor of the dying writer’s work. Wood died at Haverstraw in Rockland County, New York and was buried at his birthplace in Auburn (Winter, Brief Chronicles, 338).
Wood is mentioned by Whitman as one of the departed company who used to frequent Pfaff's (494).
Source: Whitman - CW 5:21[pages:494]
Browne notes that Wood is deceased at the time of his writing. Wood was 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]
Wood may be the "dreamy Frank" referred to in the poem.[pages:9]
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]
Frank Wood appears in a newspaper clipping, complete with Gunn's handwritten annotation.[pages:56]
"Prominently brilliant among the group of bright young men who at that time occasionally illumined the gloom of the vault under the street down at Pfaff's was Mr. Frank Wood. He was one of the contributors to Vanity Fair, and one who to considerable literary talent added the qualifications of a most fascinating manner and a sympathetic, amiable disposition" (140).
"Artemus Ward and Frank Wood became great friends" (140).
Served as Ward's agent for "Babes in the Wood" "who would pioneer the way and attend to the business affairs" (140)[pages:140]
Described by Lalor as a "tangential figure." Was the editor of Vanity Fair (4).[pages:4]
Newspaperman Frank Wood won success in 1863 with his play Leah the Forsook (59). It is because of this play that Wood is referred to as one of the men in new York that "bridged Newspaper Row and the stage" (60).[pages:59-60, 124]
A regular at Pfaff's (16).[pages:16, 37?, 71?]
He is described as a regular at Pfaff's who has also passed away. Wood is described as "the invalid cynic Frank Wood -- too bright, if not too beautiful, to last."[pages:7]
(Unconfirmed, may be another Frank Wood) May have been a part of a vairety show that featured the Zanfretta troupe in 1866-67 season (225). Also listed as appearing in a variety in 1868-69 season (505).[pages:225,505]
Augustin Daly's assistant for Taming a Butterfly. Wood is described as a young newspaper man; his "clever burlesque" Leah the Forsook attracted Daly's attention and began their collaboration (550). Leah the Forsook seems to have been more successful than his play with Daly. Wood also wrote the burletta The Marble Maiden, or the Ghost of Cologne, played by Keene's company on Sept. 25, 1863.[pages:550-551,617]
Wood is mentioned as one of the "happy, careless children of Bohemia" who attended the "carnivals in Pfaff's cellar" (5).[pages:5]
Seitz names Wood and Mullen as journalists at Vanity Fair.[pages:76, 90, 97, 101, 107, 234, 292]
A regular in the bohemian circle at Pfaff's.[pages:142]
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]
Wood was one of the members of the Pfaff's circle and the founder of Vanity Fair.[pages:223]
Watson lists Frank Wood as an editor of Vanity Fair (521).[pages:521]
Whitman records in his journal on August 16 that he met with Charles Pfaff for an excellent breakfast at his restaurant on 24th Street. "Our host himself, an old friend of mine, quickly appear'd on the scene to welcome me and bring up the news, and, first opening a big fat bottle of the best wine in the cellar, talk about ante-bellum times, '59 and '60, and the jovial suppers at his then Broadway place, near Bleecker street. Ah, the friends and names and frequenters, those times, that place. Most are dead—Ada Clare, Wilkins, Daisy Sheppard, O'Brien, Henry Clapp, Stnaley, Mullin, Wood, Brougham, Arnold—all gone. And there Pfaff and I, sitting opposite each other at the little table, gave rememberance to them in a style they would have themselves fully confirm'd, namely, big, brimming, fill'd-up champagne-glasses, drain'd in abstracted silence, very leisurely, to the last drop."[pages:5:21]
Features a brief biography of Wood.[pages:337-8]
He is listed by Winter as one of the Bohemians who frequented Pfaff's Cave (88).
Henry Neill and Frank Wood were "young journalists of fine ability," and "were frequently present" at Pfaff's. Winter continues, "both of them died in youth, with their promise unfulfilled" (65).[pages:65,88]
Whitman mentions him as a leader at Pfaff's.[pages:126]
William Winter's footnotes to Wood's tribute to O'Brien include biographical details about Wood's life and professional career.[pages:xxxvi-xxxvii]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015