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Highlights of the Sheaffer-O'Neill Collection

001 First edition of O'Neill, Son and Playwright.  From the library of Louis Sheaffer.
002 First edition of O'Neill, Son and Artist.  From the library of Louis Sheaffer.
003 Louis Sheaffer's obituary.  New York Times, August 7, 1993.
004 Photo of Louis Sheaffer reading O'Neill, Son and Playwright.  December, 1968.
005 Louis Sheaffer's business card.
006 Louis Sheaffer's publicity photo.
007 Louis Sheaffer's Pulitzer Prize for O'Neill, Son and Artist, May 6, 1974.
008 New London Day article about Louis Sheaffer, May 13, 1974 (3 columns).
009 New London Day article about Louis Sheaffer, May 13, 1974 (2 columns).
010 Louis Sheaffer's card index to articles in the Day and the Telegraph.
The following are
some of the many letters that Sheaffer received in response to his requests for information about O’Neill. They include the first page of Sheaffer’s letter to Irish playwright Sean O’Casey and O’Casey’s reply. The letter from W. Somerset Maugham includes Sheaffer’s typed comment. His letter to Dorothy Day has Day’s responses jotted in the margin.
011 Louis Sheaffer's letter to Sean O'Casey, January 24, 1957 (page 1).
012 Sean O'Casey's letter to Louis Sheaffer, January 28, 1957 (page 1).
013 Sean O'Casey's letter to Louis Sheaffer, January 28, 1957 (page 2).
014 Sean O'Casey's letter to Louis Sheaffer, January 28, 1957 (page 3).
015 Sean O'Casey's letter to Louis Sheaffer, January 28, 1957 (page 4).
016 William Carlos Williams' letter to Louis Sheaffer, April 19, 1957.
017 Lillian Gish's letter to Louis Sheaffer, August 28, 1984.
018 Photo of Lillian Gish holding O'Neill, Son and Playwright.
019 W. Somerset Maugham's letter to Louis Sheaffer, July 10, 1958.
020 Louis Sheaffer's letter to Dorothy Day, August 12, 1967.
021 E. E. Cummings' letter to Louis Sheaffer, April 17, 1957.
Irish-born actor James O’Neill and his wife Ella first visited New London in 1883, during a break from touring with The Count of Monte Cristo, a very popular play based on the well-known novel by Alexandre Dumas. At that time New London was a bustling port city that was already drawing considerable numbers of socially prominent summer residents attracted by the water, beaches and lovely views of the Thames River and Long Island Sound. The O’Neills probably rented a place during their first year in New London but soon bought the property at 325 Pequot Avenue that became the Monte Cristo Cottage. They spent part of nearly every year at the cottage until James’ death in 1920. It was the O’Neill family’s only permanent home and certainly the only place where they spent long periods of time together.

The formative years that young Eugene O'Neill spent in New London from 1889 to 1914 were clearly very important in his development. The Monte Cristo Cottage later became the setting for his dark family drama, Long Day’s Journey into Night. Family life was shadowed by Mrs. O’Neill’s drug addiction during much of the period that she lived in the house and she felt isolated from the social circles that she might otherwise have moved in. O’Neill himself was later to remark to a reporter that “It wasn’t a friendly town.” The sensitive youth must have often felt that he did not quite belong in this small town among people who seemed to live “normal” lives. Not all of O’Neill’s New London experience, however, was tragic because here Eugene enjoyed many of the ordinary experiences of youth and young adulthood: friends, girlfriends, the beach, working for the local newspaper. The setting of his comedy Ah, Wilderness! is an idealized New England town based on New London.

The 1983 photograph of the Monte Cristo Cottage is on the front of an invitation to a benefit showing at Connecticut College of the film of The Count of Monte Cristo starring James O’Neill. The following are various items relating to the cottage including Sheaffer’s crude sketch of the first floor of the house. There are also several pages of typed notes shown here as an example of Sheaffer’s methodology. He came of age during the Depression and he did not waste paper. Also displayed is an original inventory of the furniture in the Monte Cristo Cottage before it was sold by the O’Neills.

022 Monte Cristo Cottage postcard invitation, June 3, 1983.
023 Monte Cristo Cottage postcard invitation, June 3, 1983 (verso).
024 Original inventory of the furniture in the Monte Cristo Cottage before it was sold by the O’Neills.
025 Louis Sheaffer's drawing of the main floor of Monte Cristo Cottage.
026 New London Day article by Morgan McGinley on memories of Monte Cristo Cottage, December 6, 1981.
027 Louis Sheaffer's notes on Monte Cristo Cottage (page 1).
028 Louis Sheaffer's notes on Monte Cristo Cottage (page 2).
029 Louis Sheaffer's notes on Monte Cristo Cottage (page 3).
030 Louis Sheaffer's notes on Monte Cristo Cottage (page 4).
Here are two of Sheaffer’s many pictures of James O’Neill (1846-1920). In these photographs, one of which is an inscribed original, James O’Neill is shown in his role as the Count. He was considered one of the finest actors of his day but he became typecast as the Count of Monte Cristo, a role that stunted his development as an actor but made him a wealthy man. Although often exasperated with his sons, James O’Neill always provided them with financial support. Shown here as an example of his encouragement of Eugene’s writing career is a copy of the first edition of Thirst and Other One Act Plays by Eugene G. O’Neill, published in August, 1914 at the expense of James O’Neill, Sr. Thirst was written in 1913 and produced by the Provincetown Players at the Wharf Theatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1916 with Eugene playing the role of the Negro sailor. This copy of Thirst was purchased with funds provided by the Friends of the Library. The playbill was in the library collection before the arrival of the Sheaffer papers.
031 First edition of Thirst and Other One Act Plays.
032 Provincetown Players playbill of original production of Thirst.
033 Autograph photograph of James O'Neill as the Count of Monte Cristo, front.
034 Autograph photograph of James O'Neill as the Count of Monte Cristo, verso.
035 Photograph of James O'Neill as the Count of Monte Cristo, 1900.
James O’Neill, Jr. (1878-1923) was the eldest son of James and Ella O’Neill. Although charming, handsome and witty in his youth, Jamie, as he was known to family and friends, soon began his life-long rebellion against his father although he was devoted to his mother. Undisciplined and dissolute, Jamie died of complications from acute alcoholism shortly after Ella’s death. Although Eugene and Jamie were estranged during Jamie’s final years, later the playwright rendered a more sympathetic portrait of his brother in A Moon for the Misbegotten. The photographs here show Jamie as a little boy and later in one of his acting roles. The telegram was sent by Eugene O’Neill to his New London lawyer, Hadlai Hull, warning him of his brother’s latest escapade.
036 Photograph of James O'Neill, Jr., age 6.
037 Photograph of Ella Quinlan O'Neill around the time of her marriage in 1877.
038 Telegram from Eugene O'Neill to Hadlai Hull about his brother Jim, February 17, 1923.
039 Photograph of James O'Neill, Sr., James O'Neill, Jr. and Eugene on porch of Monte Cristo Cottage, 1900.
040 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill, age 10.
041 Photograph of James O'Neill, Jr. in The Traveling Salesman.
Among the material that Sheaffer collected during his research trips to New London were the legal files of the estate of the O’Neill family. They had been stored in the basement of the successor law firm of the O’Neill family lawyers, Hull, McGuire and Hull. In 1960, Attorney Francis McGuire gave the boxes and their contents to the biographer who found documentation of all sorts relating to the O’Neill family. Shown here are a probate document, assorted checks and a check stub showing payment for Eugene’s board to Mrs. Rippin, at whose home he lived after he returned to New London from his cure at Gaylord Farm.
042 Pouch containing various legal documents relating to the O'Neill family.
043 Probate document relating to the estate of James O'Neill, Sr.
It has often been said that Eugene O’Neill’s writing is extremely autobiographical and nowhere is that more evident than in a short story that was published in the June, 1917 issue of the literary magazine The Seven Arts. “Tomorrow” was the only short story that he ever published and its plot is closely related to real events during a disastrous period in his own life. In this photocopy of the first page of the story, the narrator makes reference to a trip to Buenos Aires. O’Neill made a trip to Buenos Aires in 1910 as a working passenger aboard the Norwegian windjammer the Charles Racine.
044 Photograph of the Charles Racine, on which O'Neill sailed from Boston to Buenos Aires.
045 The Seven Arts literary magazine, June, 1917.  Contains O'Neill's short story, “Tomorrow”.
046 Photocopy of the first page of “Tomorrow”.
After he was discharged from Gaylord Farm Eugene O’Neill courted Beatrice “Bee” Ashe, a New London girl. Eventually Bee married a Coast Guard man but during the course of their relationship Eugene wrote Bee a great many passionate letters which ultimately ended up in the Berg Collection at the New York . As Mrs. James Maher, Bee became a good friend of biographer Louis Sheaffer and provided him with many insights into this period of O’Neill’s life. Shown here, in addition to the picture of Eugene in his swimsuit, is a photograph of Eugene and Bee sitting on the steps of the boardwalk at old Ocean Beach.
047 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill in bathing suit in room near Harvard (1914-1915).
048 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill and Beatrice Ashe sitting on the steps of the boardwalk at Ocean Beach.
049 Photograph of Catherine Anna "Kitty" MacKay, a fellow patient at Gaylord Farm who would serve as the model for Eileen Carmody, the heroine of The Straw.
050 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill in a checked jacket.
051 Group photograph of patients at Gaylord Farm, including O'Neill.
The photographs below attest to the fact that young O’Neill’s life in New London could sometimes be more like Ah, Wilderness! than Long Day’s Journey into Night. All of the photographs are of scenes and people taken in or near New London.
052 Photograph of Thomas F. Dorsey, New London attorney and realtor, and the model for the off-stage McGuire in Long Day’s Journey into Night.
053 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill with Nina Jones and unidentified cat around 1915.
054 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill at the beach around 1915. He was an excellent swimmer.
055 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill in New London around 1913.
056 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill in a boat with friends around 1913.
057 Photograph of Mrs. James Rippin and the cat Friday, which often shared O'Neill's bed the winter of 1913-1914, when the fledgling playwright stayed with the Rippin family.
058 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill with friends in New London.
059 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill at Ocean Beach with some of his friends, including Art McGinley, whose family figures in Ah, Wilderness!
Some of Eugene O’Neill’s poetry was published in the New London Telegraph when he worked there (with his salary secretly paid by his father) as a cub reporter in 1912. These clippings were given to the library by Miss Mary Raub who worked at the Telegraph with “Gene.”
060 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill at his writing desk at home in New London, circa 1914.
061 Photograph of Judge Frederick P. Latimer, editor of  the New London Telegraph and the chief model for the editor/father in Ah, Wilderness!
062 Clippings of O'Neill's poetry from the New London Telegraph.
In 1916, O’Neill and his friend Terry Carlin, who provided the inspiration for the character of Larry Slade in The Iceman Cometh, went to Provincetown to spend the summer in cheap accommodations on the water. Also summering in Provincetown were a group of friends from Greenwich Village who had formed the Provincetown Players to perform their own plays which were very different from the commercial American theater of that time. During that summer they performed O’Neill’s Bound East for Cardiff, the first of his plays to be performed publicly. The playbill below is from a performance later that year when the players returned to New York.
063 The Provincetown Plays by George Cram Cook and Frank Shay (Stewart Kidd Company, 1921). Given to the library by Arvine and Sally Wales.
064 Table of contents of The Provincetown Plays.
065 The Provincetown Players playbill with Bound East for Cardiff.
066 The Provincetown Players subscription notice 1920-1921 (page 1).
067 The Provincetown Players subscription notice 1920-1921 (pages 2-3).
068 The Provincetown Players subscription notice 1920-1921 (page 4).
George “Jig” Cram Cook (1873-1924) was a founder of the Provincetown Players with his wife Susan Glaspell (1882-1948), a playwright and novelist. Cook and Glaspell were dedicated to the idea of regenerating the American theater, and around their Provincetown Players, in Provincetown or in Greenwich Village, was gathered a group of like-minded artists and free spirits. Some of the members of this group are shown in these photos.
069 Photograph of Edna Kenton, John Reed, and Ethel Plummer at a costume party, 1919.
070 The manuscript of Edna Kenton’s unpublished history of the Provincetown Players.
071 Photograph of Dorothy Day, social activist and founder of The Catholic Worker, with whom O’Neill may have had a brief love affair.
072 Photograph of Terry Carlin, bohemian and free spirit, in Provincetown.
073 Photograph of Hippolyte Havel, the real-life model for Hugo Kalmar in The Iceman Cometh.
074 Photograph of Louise Bryant in the Russian-style dress she favored after visiting Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution.  Bryant, American revolutionary and war correspondent, was married to John Reed. O’Neill and Bryant had an affair around 1916.
075 Photograph of George Cram (Jig) Cook, head of the Provincetown Players (Nicholas Muray).
076 Photograph of Susan Glaspell.
077 Photograph of Jig Cook in native costume in Greece shortly before his death.
078 One of Jig Cook’s ambitious and detailed designs for a structure to house his theater group.
Fortunately for his biographers Eugene O’Neill was a prolific letter writer. The Sheaffer-O’Neill Collection includes about twenty holograph letters by O’Neill, some of which were written to his friend in Provincetown, John Francis, a real estate agent and small businessman who was one of O’Neill’s earliest acquaintances there. The letters eventually were given to Sheaffer by John’s daughter Celia, who was very helpful in providing information about the playwright’s time in Provincetown. John Francis is shown here in a photograph and with some of the letters that O’Neill wrote to him, usually about business but also about personal matters, such as the letter describing his father’s accident in 1918 and a request for information about a type of fisherman’s motor boat.
079 Photograph of John Francis.
080 Eugene O'Neill's letter to John Francis, June 12, 1932 (page 1).
081 Eugene O'Neill's letter to John Francis, June 12, 1932 (page 2).
082 Eugene O'Neill's letter to John Francis, December 24, 1918.
083 The Practicioner, October, 1924.
Eugene O’Neill, Jr. (1910-1950) was the son of O’Neill’s brief marriage to Kathleen Jenkins. After the divorce the mother remarried and her son was given his stepfather’s surname. Until the age of twelve young Eugene did not know who his father was but when the father and son met for the first time they developed a liking for each other. Eugene, Sr. assumed financial responsibility for his son’s education and took particular pride in his brilliant scholastic record at Yale where he received a Ph.D. in classics in 1936 and was later appointed to the faculty. He began to show signs of the self-destructive urge common to many members of the O’Neill family. Eugene Jr. left his position at Yale and tried his hand, unsuccessfully, at other jobs. There were several failed marriages and stormy relationships, and he drank heavily. Although father and son had become totally estranged by this time, the suicide death of Eugene, Jr. with an empty bottle of bourbon nearby was a blow to Eugene, Sr. In these photographs are pictured Eugene O’Neill, Jr.’s mother; Eugene, Jr. with his father and stepmother Agnes; at Yale; and seated at the desk at which his father had written many plays.
084 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill, Jr. in the summer of 1950, shortly before his suicide.
085 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill, Jr. inscribed to his father, 1932.
086 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill, Jr. with Agnes and his father, circa 1922.
087 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill's first wife, Kathleen Jenkins, the mother of Eugene O'Neill, Jr.
088 Photograph of Shane O'Neill with Agnes and his father.
089 Photograph of Shane O'Neill with his wife and children.
090 Photograph of Shane O'Neill at Florida military academy.
091 Photograph of Shane O'Neill inscribed to Louis Sheaffer, November 11, 1971.
Oona O’Neill (1925-1991) was probably less damaged than Shane was by the breakup of their parents’ marriage and the subsequent emotional abandonment by their father, although Eugene continued to support his family financially. Oona lived with her mother, was educated at private schools and grew into a very beautiful woman but she had little personal contact with her father. Their tenuous relationship was severed forever in 1943 when, at the age of eighteen, Oona became the fourth wife of actor Charlie Chaplin who was thirty-four years her senior. The marriage prospered and produced eight children. Displayed here are a telegram from Eugene to his old friend John Francis announcing the birth of a daughter and various photographs of Oona with her parents as well as a picture of the Chaplins on their wedding day. In later years, Oona struck up a friendship with Louis Sheaffer. Included here is a Chaplin family Christmas card sent to Sheaffer. The Sheaffer-O’Neill Collection includes the extensive correspondence between Lady Chaplin and her father’s biographer and she did as much as she could to contribute to his research.

In one of her letters to Louis Sheaffer, Oona wrote: “I understand very well what you are trying to convey in your biography... I don’t mean “trying” because you succeed.... I had no profound feelings about my father - I felt no obligation towards him, and doubt if Shane did either - how could we? But then neither did we feel any guilt. I’ve lived with the creative drive for 25 years and quite understand his treatment of other people. But what exasperated me (the only word)... were the quotes from his own letters... the melodrama, the self pity, the lack of proportion, his feeling the whole world was obsessed with his whereabouts and love affairs... how could one take such a man seriously??? Your book gave me an insight into this side of him, made me forgive it and understand it to a point, because you bring everything back, again and again, to his childhood and youth. Also you made me see, for the first time, how autobiographical most of his plays are. It all connected...”

092 Telegram from Eugene O'Neill to John Francis, May 14, 1925, announcing Oona's birth.
093 Photograph of Oona O'Neill with Agnes and her father in Bermuda in 1926.
094 Chaplin family Christmas  card sent to Louis Sheaffer (verso).
095 Chaplin family Christmas  card sent to Louis Sheaffer (recto).
096 Photograph of Oona and Charlie Chaplin after their wedding.
097 Photograph of Shane, Agnes, Oona and Eugene O'Neill at their home in Bermuda in 1927 before Eugene left for New York and Carlotta Monterey who was to become his third wife.
Agnes Boulton (1893-1968) was the second wife of Eugene O’Neill and the mother of his children Shane and Oona. Agnes was a writer and they first met at the “Hell Hole” bar in New York. They were married in 1918. After their divorce in 1929, they communicated only through intermediaries. Agnes agreed not to write about him or their marriage, but after O’Neill’s death she felt free to publish an account of the early years of their life together, Part of a Long Story, (Doubleday, 1958). Here it is displayed along with a copy of the galley proofs of the memoir with cuts and revisions probably made by her friend Dorothy Day who perhaps did not want details of her younger life in Greenwich Village made public. Agnes provided Sheaffer with a lot of information about the period before and during her marriage to O’Neill.

After their marriage, the O’Neills continued for a while to spend summers in Provincetown, at the old Coast Guard Station at Peaked Hill Bars which James O’Neill, Sr. had purchased for his son and his wife. The typed letter with the grocery list was written by Agnes O’Neill to John Francis and gives some idea of the difficulties of housekeeping in the house on the dunes.

098 Newspaper photograph of Agnes O'Neill at the time of her divorce from O'Neill.
099 Photograph of Agnes and Eugene O'Neill on the roof of the old Coast Guard Station at Peaked Hill Bars on the beach near Provincetown, purchased as a home for the young couple by James O’Neill, Sr. in 1919.
100 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill's response to the word that his Pulitzer Prize for Beyond the Horizon included a thousand-dollar cash award.  At Peaked Hills Bar Station.
101 Photograph of Agnes Boulton O'Neill, the playwright's second wife.
102 First edition of Part of a Long Story.
103 Letter from Agnes O'Neill to John Francis, crica 1924 (recto).
104 Letter from Agnes O'Neill to John Francis, crica 1924 (verso).
105 Galley proof of Part of a Long Story.
Carlotta Monterey (1888-1970), who became Eugene O’Neill’s third wife and widow, was born Hazel Neilson Tharsing in California. Hazel was a very beautiful woman who later adopted the more exotic name of Carlotta Monterey to further her career as a model and actress. She is shown here in a series of photographs taken before her marriage to the rising playwright. In the course of writing his biography of Eugene O’Neill, Louis Sheaffer interviewed Carlotta at length and amassed an extensive dossier on her life. Much of this material was given to him by Carlotta’s daughter and son-in-law who became close friends.
106 Photograph of Hazel Tharsing, age 6.
107 Photograph of Hazel Tharsing that helped her win the title of Miss California in 1907.
108 Photograph of Carlotta and her first husband, John Moffat.
109 Photograph of Carlotta, her second husband, Melvin Chapman, and their daughter Cynthia, who was Carlotta’s only child.
110 Photograph of Carlotta and her third husband, caricaturist Ralph Barton.
111 Newspaper photograph of Carlotta Monterey playing Lucy Gallon in “Taking Chances, 1915.
Eugene O’Neill and Carlotta Monterey met in 1922 when she appeared in The Hairy Ape. At that first meeting neither was very impressed with the other. But they met again during the summer of 1926 in Belgrade Lakes, Maine where O’Neill was spending a family vacation with his wife and all of their children. Carlotta was recently divorced and before long they began an affair that lead to O’Neill’s divorce from Agnes and marriage to Carlotta in 1929 in Paris.

The marriage of Eugene and Carlotta coincided with the playwright’s growing fame and financial success. They lived abroad and in a succession of well-decorated and expensive homes in the United States. Eugene dedicated himself more completely to his writing and many old friends found themselves locked out of his life. Carlotta saw her role as muse, guardian and gatekeeper. Here the O’Neills are shown in photographs taken during different periods of their marriage.

112 Photograph of Eugene and Carlotta O'Neill shortly before they sailed for Europe.
113 Snapshots taken at Tao House, California.
114 Photograph of Eugene and Carlotta O'Neill, 1931 (Ben Pinchot).
115 Photograph of Eugene and Carlotta O'Neill in their home on Puget Sound, Washington, 1936.
116 Photograph of Eugene and Carlotta O'Neill at a rehearsal of The Iceman Cometh in 1946. Eugene attended many of the rehearsals and his presence was intimidating to the director and cast.
Eugene and Carlotta were very fond of their animals. One pet that held a special place in their affections was “Blemie” acquired during their time in France. Blemie was with them for 12 years and his death was the inspiration for The Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O’Neill, written at Tao House in 1940. This edition was printed for Carlotta Monterey O’Neill at the Yale University Press in 1956. Inscribed by Carlotta to “Louis Shaeffer” (sic), she writes melodramatically “When Blemie left us the world fell apart!”
117 Photograph of Eugene O'Neill and Blemie.
118 First edition of The Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O’Neill.
119 Carlotta's inscription to Louis Sheaffer in The Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O’Neill.
O’Neill enjoyed music and had an extensive record collection. While he was living at Tao House in California, Carlotta’s daughter typed up an index to the collection and years later gave this copy to Louis Sheaffer.
120 Typed index of Eugene O'Neill's record collection (cover).
121 Typed index of Eugene O'Neill's record collection (page 1).
Carlotta O’Neill was named sole executrix of her husband’s estate. Although Eugene O’Neill had deposited the manuscript of his masterpiece Long Day’s Journey into Night in 1945 with his publisher with a signed document forbidding its publication until twenty-five years after his death, Carlotta decided to allow publication of her husband’s last work. Eventually, Random House relinquished the rights to publication and the work was published by Yale University Press in 1956. The play was written between 1939 and 1941 and deals with a day in the life of the Tyrone family, a thinly veiled rendering of the life of the O’Neill family at the Monte Cristo Cottage on a day in 1912.
122 First edition of Long Day’s Journey into Night.
123 O'Neill's inscription in Long Day’s Journey into Night.
Inscriptions: Eugene O’Neill to Carlotta Monterey O’Neill (Yale University Press,1960), gathers together the inscriptions to Carlotta that Eugene wrote in the books in their personal library which were later given by her to the Yale University Library for the Eugene O’Neill Collection. This copy is open to Carlotta’s inscription to her husband’s biographer.
124 First edition of Inscriptions: Eugene O’Neill to Carlotta Monterey O’Neill.
125 Carlotta's inscription to Louis Sheaffer in Inscriptions: Eugene O’Neill to Carlotta Monterey O’Neill.

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