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Charles Cecil Lee D’Montrol Somerville (1876-1931) was a writer and illustrator. A native of New Orleans, Somerville began a career as a newspaper reporter at the age of sixteen at a local paper in Mount Vernon, New York. He also worked at newspapers in Asheville, North Carolina and Philadelphia, before settling in New York City as a reporter for the Evening Journal, the New York American, and the The World. Though he began his career as a sports writer, Somerville quickly gained a reputation as a hard-hitting reporter. His tenacity and persistence, which earned him the nickname “the demon,” often led to his stories related to sensational murders of the times. One such story involved Somerville’s discovery of a cache of letters written to Charles Gillette by his jilted lover weeks before he murdered her. The murder case provided Theodore Dreiser with the premise for his novel An American Tragedy, and the letters play a role in the unfolding of Dreiser’s plot. Somerville himself wrote a number of fictional works, some of which he illustrated. These include The Shriek: A Satirical Burlesque (1922) and An Artist in Crime (1928).
The baptism of Frank Shay's travelling bookshop, "Parnassus on Wheels," June 3, 1922
The text on the back of the photograph notes that Charles Somerville is standing "back of the radiator of the car."