Anna Ballard, a reporter for the New York Sun, was a friend and traveling companion of Ada Clare.
Beach, Juliette H. (1829-1900)
Literary Critic, Journalist, Editor, Poet.
Juliette Beach and her husband Calvin were acquaintances of Henry Clapp. The couple may have visited Pfaff's during their occasional sojourns to New York City. It was Clapp who suggested that Juliette review the 1860 Leaves of Grass manuscript. What resulted was a highly critical review of the text in the June 2, 1860 edition of the Saturday Press. It is believed that Calvin Beach intercepted the manuscript and wrote the disparaging review: "Clapp mistakenly appended Juliette's initials to it, and a week later had to print a retraction" (Mullins 51). A more favorable review of Leaves of Grass was published in the Saturday Press on June 23; this review by "A Woman" is attributed to Juliette Beach. Ellen O'Connor suggests that this review was the start of a long correspondence between Beach and Whitman and that he wrote "Out of the Rolling Ocean Crowd" (1865) for her (Mullins 51). The correspondence continued despite the objections of Calvin Beach (E. Miller, "Walt Whitman" 66-67). No letters between Beach and Whitman have been recovered. At one time she was believed to be the author of the "Ellen Eyre" letter (Holloway, "Whitman Pursued" 10). She was later ruled out as Ellen Eyre because, although she may have visited Pfaff's, she did not have a home in the city as Ellen Eyre claims to have had. Ada Clare, "Bohemian fellow traveler Adah Isaacs Menken," and contributors Juliette Beach and Mary Chilton are listed by Allen as examples of the fact that "'a number of women came to Whitman's aid at this time,' defending the sex poems and such unconventional ideas as the mention of nudity and bodily functions in poetry" (141).
Clare, Ada ( Jane McElheny ) (1836-1874)
Actor, Journalist, Novelist, Poet.
Ada Clare (whose given name was Jane McIlheny) was born in South Carolina. She received a small inheritance upon her parents' deaths, which she used to travel to Paris. In the city of lights, she spent time with pianist and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, who may have been the father of her son Aubrey. Clare arrived in New York in 1858 and scandalized the populace as an unwed mother preaching the doctrine of free love and introducing herself and Aubrey as "Miss Ada Clare and Son" (Lalor, "Whitman" 136). As Emily Hahn notes, "she refused to be ruined" and participated fully in the literary life of the city by frequenting Pfaff's where she organized literary contests, took it upon herself to remember members' birthdays, and collected funds for community celebrations (3). William Dean Howells remembers her as "a young girl of a sprightly gift in letters, whose name or pseudonym had made itself pretty well known at that day" ("First Impressions" 64). To Walt Whitman, Clare "represented the ideal of the modern woman: talented, intelligent, and emancipated" (Lalor 136). In Whitman's "Street Yarn" he describes her as "A lady -- slender and elegant -- in black from head to foot; pure white complexion, pale, striking chiseled features, perfect profile, abundant fair hair; abstracted look, and rather rapid, purposeful step...a perfect beauty; questionless, of decided talent;...a persevering and energetic votary of the mimetic art. Possessed of some wealth, great personal attractions, no inconsiderable share of intellect and cultivation,..." (qtd. in Lalor 136).
Clare was a central part of the Bohemian lifestyle in New York. A group of Bohemians, the West 42nd Street Coterie, often gathered at her home. Clare, the "queen" of the Bohemian circle at Pfaff's, provided a congenial atmosphere for the Pfaffians during her Sunday night receptions. She played a pivotal role in maintaining the Bohemian society during this time: "Ada Clare was magnetic in addition to her mental brightness and store of maternal treasures inherited from her family, and with her wealth and beauty she attracted the higher grades of men and women" (Rawson 103).
Her experiences in Paris and New York led her to the Bohemian lifestyle. She defined a Bohemian as a "cosmopolite, with a general sympathy for the fine arts, and for all things above and beyond convention" (Hahn 27). Clare used her own unconventional affair with Gottschalk, which ended badly, as material for many of her poetic and fictional works, like the novel Only a Woman's Heart, which appeared in 1866 to mixed, and even hostile, reviews.
In addition to acting in New York City, San Francisco, and parts of the Southern United States, Ada Clare also wrote a weekly column for Henry Clapp's Saturday Press. In "Thoughts and Things" she discussed a range of topics, from women's rights to the status of the American theater. Clare also employed the pseudonym "Alastor." In addition to the Press, she also published in Atlas and, during her time in San Francisco, she contributed to The Golden Era, a weekly edited by Bret Harte.
After the disappointing reviews of her novel, Clare joined a stock company of actors in Memphis, adopting the stage name "Agnes Stanfield" while touring in Tennessee. She married a member of the company, J.F. Noyes, with whom she had another son, but the child died in infancy. Clare also lost her first son, Aubrey, before he reached adulthood. Clare herself died in 1874 as the result of complications from the bite of a rabid dog, which she incurred while visiting Sanford and Weaver's dramatic agency in New York. Though her wounds seemed to heal, she became delirious a few months later during a performance and died that same night.
Fellow Pfaffian William Winter wrote Clare's obituary in the New York Tribune as well as a poem called "Ada" which was admired by Wilkie Collins (Parry, Garrets 36). The young poet Charles Stoddard, whom Ada traveled with in Hawaii and California, eulogized her by writing, "The queen is dead; but who shall cry 'Long live the Queen!' in her stead? Are there no more queens of Bohemia, I wonder, and is the Bohemia of that day a thing of the past, dead and gone forever?" (qtd. in Hahn 35). Howells stated that her fate "out-tragedies almost any other in the history of letters" ("First Impressions" 64). Whitman also expressed sorrow over her death, writing to a friend that he had been "inexpressibly shocked by the horrible and sudden close of her gay, easy, sunny, free, loose, but not ungood life"
Little is known of Jenny Danforth despite the fact that she is mentioned frequently as one of the women who followed Ada Clare to Pfaff’s. She was rumored to have had an affair with Fitz-James O’Brien, but the true nature of their relationship is uncertain (Wolle 130). Junius Henri Brown identifies her as “a writer for the weekly journals” (157), and Rufus Rockwell Wilson claims that “Jenny Danforth was also a witty and beautiful woman, the estranged wife, it was said, of a naval officer of high rank, but whose name was not Danforth. A clever writer, she lived for a few years a precarious but not wholly unhappy life and then falling into misfortune and poverty, finally vanished without her old friends knowing precisely when or how it happened” (143). The author of Henry Clapp’s New York Times obituary called her "a wild, impulsive Western woman"
Goldbeck, Mary Freeman ( Anna Mary Freeman ) (1817-)
The daughter of respected portraitist and miniaturist George Freeman, Mary Freeman Goldbeck was a poet and a talented painter in her own right, referred to as “a genius in water-color miniatures” (Rawson 103). As Anna Mary Freeman and Mary Freeman Goldbeck, she published poems in The Galaxy, Knickerbocker, Living Age and the Saturday Press. Although her relationship with the Pfaffians is uncertain, sources have described her as a friend of Ada Clare and, in her memoir, Rose Eytinge--another leader of the bohemian community--groups Goldbeck with other “beautiful and brilliant” women who congregated at Clare’s home in New York City (Rawson 38, 22).
Her husband appears to have been Robert Golbeck, a pianist and composer. She was married in 1859 and, two years later, she gave birth to a son, William Freeman Goldbeck
Actor, Poet, Essayist.
Hailed as "one of the galaxy of bright young women who, like stars about the moon, made a beautiful group around Ada Clare," Shaw was an actress of merit and a writer of humorous sketches like "Fashions Follies" and "The One Night Stand," which appeared in Spirit of the Times (Rawson 104). She was a "golden woman of poetical tendencies" who, though born to an aristocratic Episcopalian family in Indianapolis where she was well-educated and married, was shunned by her family after her divorce (104). Junius Browne declares that she "was the best Camille on the American Stage" (157), even though Henry Clapp’s obituary observes that Shaw had an "unsuccessful dramatic career" (“Obituary” 7). Like many of her fellow Pfaffians, whether New Yorkers by birth or by choice, she drew inspiration from the city.
Stoddard, Elizabeth Barstow (1823-1902)
Novelist, Poet, Essayist, Short Story Writer.
Remembered as a novelist and poet, Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard was the second of nine children raised in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, a setting she drew on for her novels. She met the man who would become her husband, Richard Henry Stoddard, and after a brief courtship, the couple married in 1852 and settled in New York City. At their home in Manhattan, they hosted gatherings for people interested in literature and culture including Thomas Bailey Aldrich and William Dean Howells (Greenslet 33, Howells, “First Impressions” 72). The Stoddard household was “a little literary world, for every member of it writes" (J. Barry 184). Edmund Clarence Stedman likened the circle that grew up around the Stoddards to “the traditions of Charles and Mary Lamb, the Brontes, the Howitts, the Shelleys, and the Brownings” (“Mr. Stedman’s Tribute” 9). Elizabeth was one of only two women to be fully accepted into the bohemian circle (Sentilles 143); her superiority is reaffirmed by Mrs. Thomas Bailey Aldrich, who observes: "I know no prototype of Mrs. Stoddard -- this singular woman, who possessed so strongly the ability to sway all men who came within her influence. Brilliant and fascinating, she needed neither beauty nor youth, her power was so much beyond such aids. On every variety of subject she talked with originality and ready wit; with impassioned speech expressing an individuality and insight most unusual and rare" (Crowding Memories 14). Elizabeth belonged to Bayard Taylor’s poetic group, along with her husband and others from the crowd at Pfaff’s including George William Curtis, Edmund Clarence Stedman, George Henry Boker, Fitz-James O’Brien, Christopher P. Cranch, and Fitz Hugh Ludlow (Winter Old Friends 177). Perhaps inspired by these literary associations, and encouraged by her husband, Mrs. Stoddard began writing short stories, poems, and sketches for popular periodicals like the Atlantic Monthly, the Knickerbocker, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, and Appleton’s Journal.
In addition to editing books with her husband, Stoddard produced her own novels: The Morgesons (1862), Two Men (1865), and Temple House (1867); she also wrote a book for children Lolly Dinks’s Doings (1874), and a poetry collection, Poems (1895). Pfaff’s frequenter, Edmund Clarence Stedman, wrote an introduction to the reissued editions of her novels. While they never achieved widespread success, Stoddard’s novels, rich in realistic detail, were praised by important literary figures like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Leslie Stephen; William Dean Howells maintains that her work did not achieve the recognition that it merited, “which will be hers when Time begins to look about him for work worth remembering" (“First Impressions” 72-73). Howells also admires her integrity and commitment to cultivating an authentic voice: "In a time when most of us had to write like Tennyson, or Longfellow, or Browning, she never would write like anyone but herself" (73).
Despite her critical success, Mrs. Stoddard’s later life was made difficult by the poor health of her husband and the deaths of her three sons, one of whom, Lorimer Stoddard, had inherited the family proclivity for creative expression, writing plays and poems (J. Barry 104). According to the obituary penned by her husband, Elizabeth died after a lingering illness at seventy-nine years of age, four months short of the couple’s golden anniversary and one year after the death of her son. E. C. Stedman records that her last words were to a family servant: “Alice, after I am gone take good care of Dick, and, for Heaven’s sake, go out and buy him a couple of new shirts”