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When O’Neill lived in New London, the city’s morning newspaper, The New London Telegraph, was located at 21 Union Street. It was the more liberal of New London’s two newspapers. In the summer of 1912, at Eugene’s request, James O’Neill went to his friend Frederick P. Latimer, a former judge and now the Telegraph’s part-owner and Editor-in-Chief, and asked him to hire his son as a cub reporter. When Latimer’s uncle purchased the Telegraph in 1910 it was a financially troubled publication, and though he was willing to give the young man a chance, Latimer told the actor that the newspaper’s tight annual budget had been fully allocated. So O’Neill’s salary of $10 a week was initially paid by his father. In later years, O’Neill characterized himself as a "bum" reporter. His stories were inventive and detailed, yet he frequently neglected the basic who, what, when, where, and why questions required for accurate

Frederick P. Latimer, Editor-in-Chief, New London Telegraph

reporting. O’Neill covered appearances by Socialist orators, barroom brawls, political rallies, and the elegant weddings of the social set. He also wrote poetry for the newspaper’s Laconics column. O’Neill respected Latimer and asked the editor to read many of his early plays, short stories, and poetry. Latimer was impressed with much of the work and told James O’Neill that he felt his son, "did not have merely talent, but a very high order of genius" (Sheaffer, SP, 229). O’Neill once said that Judge Latimer was the first person, "who really thought I had something to say, and believed I could say it" (Sheaffer, SP, 228). Latimer would later serve as a model for editor Nat Miller in Ah, Wilderness!


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