Born in Islington, England in 1817, William Newman was an "innovator who helped to redefine the possibilities of the American cartoon" (Brown and West 143-4). Newman emerged on the journalism scene at the age of 21 "filling the place of celebrated Robert Seymour on the penny weekly Figaro in London (Brown and West 144). His success at the Figaro led to a new job as the house artist at the penny weekly called the Odd Fellow, a satrical paper. Here, Newman drew the weekly front page cut. In 1841, he was invited "to join a new, superior, threepenny weekly to be called Punch" (Gunn, vol. 12, 143; Brown and West 146). Newman's primary role at Punch was to provide small cuts, while on occassion he did some large cuts (Brown and West 147). By 1850, he had left Punch and had taken up work as a booksellar. He returned to journalism in 1854 as a cartoonist for Diogenes (Brown and West 154).
In the winter of 1860, struggling to make ends meet for his growing family and wife, Newman was offered a job that offered more stability. The position was the "chief cartoonist for a new humor magazine, to be called Momus, which would cause him to relocate across the ocean in New York (Brown and West 158). While "all cartoons in Momus by Newman have previously been ascribed to William North," a myth that was perpetuated by Frank Luther, scholars Jane Brown and Richard Samuel West have disproven such a notion. As they demonstrate, "North had committed suicide on November 14, 1854," so it would have been impossibile for North to have completed this work (Brown and West 161). With the demise of Momus in sight, "Newman found work on Frank Leslie's Budget of Fun, the best of the American comic monthlies (Brown and West 164-5).
While Newman, himself, never frequented Pfaff's, he crossed paths with many of the Pfaff's bohemians. In fact, during the war years, Newman "became something of a mentor to [Thomas Nast,] the ambitious young artist," who was known to frequent Pfaff's (Brown and West 168). During the Civil War, Newman also "became part of the corps of artists bringing scenes of the war into the parlors of North homes" with contributions to both the New York Illustrated News and Harper's Weekly. In the fall of 1862, he began to contribute work again to one of Leslie's publications, Frank Leslie's Budget of Fun, which continued relatively consistently for the next eight years (Brown and West 168). According to biogaphers Brown and West, "after the War, Newman paid less attention to nationall politics and more to American foreign policy and international affairs," especially the relations between the United States and England and France (173). In 1870, Newman died suddenly at the age of 52 from heart failure (Brown and West 178). Among his many contributions, he is remembered as being to first artist to carcature Lincoln (Brown and West 143).
Gunn describes William Newman: "In the evening with Boweryem up to the Unitary Home, to be introduced to a Mr. Addy, who, arrived from England by this days steamer, intends starting a comic daily paper, for which he has brought title, cuts and artist. The latter is Newman, once of 'Punch', but never of any note there. Addy is a portlyish, dark-haired man of perhaps forty, half-blind, so that he has to feel his way as much as see it. The title of the paper is 'Momus', which, of course, will be highly intelligible and appropriate to a Yankee community. Marry! they'd better have called it 'Pop-Corn' or the 'Daily Doughnut!' Title elaborate, classic (!) The men are very eager about it, have entire faith in their enterprise and exhibit an ignorance of America and the Americans absolutely stupendous. They amiably pooh-pooh all that has been done hitherto, talk of artist here with good-natured condescenscion [sic], and think lots of voluntary good matter will come in; that, in short, they have but to come, see, and conquer. Addy has lived here before, too. Newman is light-haired, wrinkle-faced, queer, very, very English! Is it possible that I, that every Englishman coming to this country, does, at the outset exhibit this stupendous conviction that he is a gentlemanly Columbus among innocently-disposed savages, whom he intends to be very kind too, if they behave well? I like Addy well enough, but there's only one good thing in his scheme – selling at a cent a copy. But how little he knows how keenly, how sharply everything relating to a Comic paper has been discussed here; how shrewdly reckoned up his 'Momus' will be. This Bohemian life ought to teach one something" (143-44).
Gunn provides more detail on Newman's character: "Newman dreadfully self complacent, pooh-poohed a charming notion of 'Punch', thought me 'very good-natured' in my avowed admiration of it. Is beginning, however, Newman. Patti. to conceive the possibility of their being heroes besides
Agamemnon, said he 'had no hesitation in declaring' that certain drawings of Bellew's were 'as good' as any in the old country! Don't begin to understand that F.B. may be everyway above him. Newman is light-haired, at a distance youthful looking, on closer inspection, his face very seamed and wrinked. Said an American publisher had asked him to write a book on this country! (Four days experience, and three of them wet ones! one would like to know that publisher!) Told both men as much civil truth as I could; they went to 'private' view of the National Academy Exhibition (which is always more crowded than on ordinary occasions)" (149-50).
Gunn describes a discussion with Newman and his developing affection towards him: "Newman called – up in my room with him. Talk about 'Momus' atters and of the new 'gas editor' as the 'Courier', by typographically knocking off a letter from the preceding word, called him. Newman shows very well, has capital sketches and notions; owns now that he can't draw as well as Bellew or Mc. Lenan, a wholesome sign. Says he understood from Addey that I rejected the proposed editorship, that if 'Jenkins' prove a muff, he'll have to go. I wish I'd secured it, not for its the sake of the position, in itself an unpleasant one but, warranted to secure enemies, but for the keeping it out of asinine hands. I like Newman, and think there may be safety in him. Writing. Downtown in the afternoon, called at W. Leslie's, 'Nic-nax', 'Courier' &c. A sunny, pleasant day. Came upon Tom Strong in Houston Street, looking at some buildings of his erection, anon Arnold and Shepherd. Haney supped with us, having walked up with Bellew and Cahill. In my room. To 14th Street, saw Addey and Newman – Rosenberg there. With Newman to Bellew's and there till 10" (160-61).
Gunn recalls his discussion with Newman, "Sat down and had a talk. Newman's approbative redundance, and general antiquity of ideas relative to big cuts had rather dismayed Bellew and he knew Rosenberg and Addey to be helpless in the way of suggesting ideas. He only joined 'Momus' in sympathy with the attempt. Told him to do nothing specially on my account as regards his relations, but to tell Addey, I shouldn't do anything, either in writing or scribbling, unless I was put on the footing accorded to men my inferiors in value – a regular engagement. He has a loose impression I'm to be had without it – that I shall do the old dreary business of bringing up articles &c for acceptation or rejection by Rosenberg, Gayler & Co. Not if I know it!" (168-69).
Gunn describes Newman's interest in Momus: "Newman the artist up in my room, in a great state of funk and excitement about "Momus," down on Rosenberg and pronouncing Addey a weathercock; entreating me to come up tonight and settle matters. Boweryem, Cahill and Bowman present" (189-90).
Gunn describes Newman as a very nervous man: "Newman returned to Bleecker St with me and I took him to an engine-house, he wanting to sketch a 'machine'. Addey is 'editing' Momus to the dogs and Newman is very dissatisfied with him. Rosenberg, says Newman, brings columns of dreary stuff which Addey puts in, Briggs do. The man who talks loudest convinces Addey, &c. &c. They are going to sink the daily issue in a weekly, very soon, (tother [sic] will sink, too, in good time.) Newman is the most nervous man I ever encountered" (209-10).
Gunn describes Newman excitedly approaching him: "Was overtaken, returning, by Newman in Broadway, who told me that he was getting 'tremendously American!' that he had written for his wife and children to come hither, intending to take a house in Williamsburg" (221).[pages:143-144, 149-150, 160-161, 168-169, 189-190, 209-210, 221]
Gunn and Newman discuss Addey again, "Met Newman with Underhill, and the first joined me, talking of Addey as usual, of his (Newman's) difficulty in extracting money from him, of his having to strike and the certainty of "Momus" coming to grief uncontinently, if Addey don't succeed in getting a partner" (38-39).
Gunn recalls his evening with Newman, "The former Newman describes as dissipated, "gentish" and cockney to an extreme degree, says he was "shocking," "dreadful;" that at one of the early "Punch" suppers – they had a weekly one, on Saturday night, "when the number was out" and business over – Smith sang a song of his own writing so obscene, unnatural and abominable that were he (Newman) to repeat the three first lines to us we should be utterly revolted. Leech was shocked at it. Jerrold, says Newman, was the man whose counsel made "Punch" of national importance. Left Bellew's at 11, leaving Newman at his own door" (53).
Gunn gives an insight to Newman's character, "Newman had vowed he wouldn't miss seeing Bellew off "for a thousand dollars" – hence Mrs Bellew inferred he wouldn't come, and her inference proved correct" (173).[pages:38-39, 53, 173]
Gunn describes coldness from Newman: "Saw Mc. Lenan and Newman in the sanctum, when the latter gave me, I thought, a characteristically snobbish greeting. I believe the sweep is greatly injured by Bellew's returning and quietly resuming his former position, to which his unrivalled [sic] abilities give him unquestionable right, to the comparative superseding of Newman's trash. This fellow, with his open-mouthed conceit, his cockney chatter, his interminable fidgetty egotisms, his inordinate childish vanity, was treated with the utmost generosity and courtesy by Bellew, when he first came to this country, and professed great regard both for him and myself, but eagerly and indecently dropped us when he supposed we could be of no use to him, and as ravenously pursued those whom he thought might be. I saw him again at Frank Leslie's, whither I went straight way (finding Bonner absent) where Newman came in while I was talking with John A. Wood (who had heard of O'Brien's affair with varying details.) Poor Banks coming in, I heard Newman commence at him with, 'I got your letter and –' whence I infer Banks had addressed to this mean and selfish quarter supplications for 'pecuniary assistance'" (44-45).
Gunn questions his quick judgement of Newman: "In Nassau Street, at Strong's door met Newman, who was quite friendly. He spoke about his family at home, and I thought that his anxiety about them might have made him selfish and that I may have done him injustice in my hasty estimate. While we talked McLenan and Joe Harper came along and the first entered Strong's without returning my how are you. In explanation, I thought of something communicated incidentally by Bellew; that Newman and McLenan had made common cause against him, resenting his return from England. I suppose Mac regards me as an accessary [sic]" (82).[pages:44-45, 82]
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