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Newman, William (1817-1870)


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).