At his death, Robert Barry Coffin ("Barry Gray") was remembered as a "venerable author and Bohemian" ("Old 'Barry Gray' Dead" 5). He was born in 1826 and was a descendent of the Coffin family and "old Admiral Coffin" of Cape Cod.
"Barry Gray" was a critic for the Home Journal, and he may have associated with famous authors, including Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry W. Longfellow. "Gray" was also a frequenter of Pfaff's cellar who often sat "at the dripping round-table where Walt Whitman read his 'Yawps'" alongside fellow Pfaffians, Fitz-Greene Halleck and Artemus Ward ("Old 'Barry Gray' Dead" 5).
Gray is credited with having written a "large number of books" and made contributions to periodicals; he wrote under the pseudonym "Barry Gray" and under his own name, Robert Barry Coffin. His books include "'Married Life at Hillside,' 'Out of Town,' 'Infelicities of Married Life,' and 'Cakes and Ale'" ("Old 'Barry Gray' Dead" 5).
Barry Gray is described as a man with "a peculiar vein of humor" and a writer who composed "a clever sort of doggerel by the yard" (5).
"Deep down in the fat and ancient Pfaff's cellar," Gray used to "hold high wassail with the Bohemians" (5). Gray was remembered as "one of the brightest of that brilliant and witty company [of Bohemians]." He is lauded as "one of the keenest of the company, and his wit was never dull." He was well-known for the "razor-edged repartee in which he engaged with some of the foremost Bohemians" (5).
Gray earned his own literary reputation after succeeding Thomas Bailey Aldrich as editor of the Home Journal . He is the author of such books as "Married Life at Hillside," "Out of Town," "Infelicities of Married Life," and "Cakes and Ale."
At his death, Coffin left behind a wife and two sons. One of his sons was named after the artist Albert Bierstadt. His only daughter had died in 1885, and Coffin never recovered from the "shock" of her death, which contributed to his own poor health (5).
Although Coffin had been employed at a Custom-House, he was forced to resign, and for several months before his death, he was unable to leave his bed. He died in his home in Fordham on Friday, June 11, 1886 (5).[pages:5]
"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]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015