The Rose Man of Sing Sing

Published by Fordham University Press
This biography of the early 20th-century newspaper giant who became news after killing his wife “has the pace and detail of an engrossing historical novel” (Boston Herald).

As city editor of Joseph Pulitzer’s New York Evening World, Charles E. Chapin was the quintessential newsroom tyrant: he drove reporters relentlessly, setting the pace for evening press journalism with blockbuster stories from the Harry K. Thaw trial to the sinking of the Titanic.

At the pinnacle of his fame in 1918, Chapin was deeply depressed and facing financial ruin. He decided to kill himself and his wife Nellie. But after shooting Nellie in her sleep, he failed to take his own life. The trial made one hell of a story for the Evening World’s competitors, and Chapin was sentenced to life in Ossining, New York’s, infamous Sing Sing Prison.

In The Rose Man of Sing Sing, James McGrath Morris tracks Chapin’s journey from Chicago street reporter to celebrity New York powerbroker to infamous murderer. But Chapin’s story is not without redemption: in prison, he started a newspaper fighting for prisoner rights, wrote a best-selling autobiography, had two long-distance love affairs, and transformed barren prison plots into world-famous rose gardens.

The first biography of one of the founding figures of modern American journalism, and a vibrant chronicle of the cutthroat culture of scoops and scandals, The Rose Man of Sing Sing is also a hidden history of New York at its most colorful and passionate.

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