For other uses, see Eugene O'Neill (disambiguation).
|Born||Eugene Gladstone O'Neill
(1888-10-16)October 16, 1888 New York City, U.S.
|Died||November 27, 1953(1953-11-27) (aged 65)|
|Notable awards||Nobel Prize in Literature (1936)
Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1920, 1922, 1928, 1957)
(m. 1909; div. 1912)
Agnes Boulton (m. 1918; div. 1929)
His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into U.S. drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwright August Strindberg.
The tragedy Long Day's Journey into Night is often numbered on the short list of the finest U.S. plays in the 20th century, alongside Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.
O'Neill's plays were among the first to include speeches in American English vernacular and involve characters on the fringes of society.
They struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations, but ultimately slide into disillusionment and despair.
Of his very few comedies, only one is well-known (Ah, Wilderness!).
Nearly all of his other plays involve some degree of tragedy and personal pessimism.
A commemorative plaque was first dedicated there in 1957.
His father suffered from alcoholism; his mother from an addiction to morphine, prescribed to relieve the pains of the difficult birth of her third son, Eugene.
Because his father was often on tour with a theatrical company, accompanied by Eugene's mother, in 1895 O'Neill was sent to St. , a Catholic boarding school in the Aloysius Academy for BoysRiverdale section of the Bronx.
He also briefly attended Betts Academy in Stamford.
He attended Princeton University for one year.
Accounts vary as to why he left.
He may have been dropped for attending too few classes, been suspended for "conduct code violations," or "for breaking a window", or according to a more concrete but possibly apocryphal account, because he threw "a beer bottle into the window of Professor Woodrow Wilson", the future president of the United States.
O'Neill spent several years at sea, during which he suffered from depression and alcoholism.
Despite this, he had a deep love for the sea and it became a prominent theme in many of his plays, several of which are set on board ships like those on which he worked.
O'Neill joined the Marine Transport Workers Union of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which was fighting for improved living conditions for the working class using quick 'on the job' direct action.
O'Neill's parents and elder brother Jamie (who drank himself to death at the age of 45) died within three years of one another, not long after he had begun to make his mark in the theater.
After his experience in 1912–13 at a sanatorium where he was recovering from tuberculosis, he decided to devote himself full-time to writing plays (the events immediately prior to going to the sanatorium are dramatized in his masterpiece, Long Day's Journey into Night).
O'Neill had previously been employed by the New London Telegraph, writing poetry as well as reporting.
In the fall of 1914, he entered Harvard University to attend a course in dramatic technique given by Professor George Baker.
He left after one year.
O'Neill also had a brief romantic relationship with Reed's wife, writer Louise Bryant.
His involvement with the Provincetown Players began in mid-1916.
Terry Carlin reported that O'Neill arrived for the summer in Provincetown with "a trunk full of plays.
", but this was an exaggeration.
Susan Glaspell describes a reading of Bound East for Cardiff that took place in the living room of Glaspell and her husband George Cram Cook's home on Commercial Street, adjacent to the wharf (pictured) that was used by the Players for their theater: "So Gene took Bound East for Cardiff out of his trunk, and Freddie Burt read it to us, Gene staying out in the dining-room while reading went on.
He was not left alone in the dining-room when the reading had finished."
The Provincetown Players performed many of O'Neill's early works in their theaters both in Provincetown and on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village.
Some of these early plays, such as The Emperor Jones, began downtown and then moved to Broadway.
In an early one-act play, The Web.
written in 1913, O'Neill first explored the darker themes that he later thrived on.
Here he focused on the brothel world and the lives of prostitutes, which also play a role in some fourteen of his later plays.
In particular, he memorably included the birth of an infant into the world of prostitution.
At the time, such themes constituted a huge innovation, as these sides of life had never before been presented with such success.
His best-known plays include Anna Christie (Pulitzer Prize 1922), Desire Under the Elms (1924), Strange Interlude (Pulitzer Prize 1928), Mourning Becomes Electra (1931), and his only well-known comedy, Ah, Wilderness! , a wistful re-imagining of his youth as he wished it had been.
After a ten-year pause, O'Neill's now-renowned play The Iceman Cometh was produced in 1946.
The following year's A Moon for the Misbegotten failed, and it was decades before coming to be considered as among his best works.
He was also part of the modern movement to partially revive the classical heroic mask from ancient Greek theatre and Japanese Noh theatre in some of his plays, such as The Great God Brown and Lazarus Laughed.
O'Neill was married to Kathleen Jenkins from October 2, 1909 to 1912, during which time they had one son, Eugene O'Neill, Jr. (1910–1950).
In 1917, O'Neill met Agnes Boulton, a successful writer of commercial fiction, and they married on April 12, 1918.
They lived in a home owned by her parents in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, after their marriage.
They divorced in 1929, after O'Neill abandoned Boulton and the children for the actress Carlotta Monterey (born San Francisco, California, December 28, 1888; died Westwood, New Jersey, November 18, 1970).
O'Neill and Carlotta married less than a month after he officially divorced his previous wife.
During the early 1930s they returned to the United States and lived in Sea Island, Georgia, at a house called .
He moved to Danville, California in 1937 and lived there until 1944.
His house there, Tao House, is today the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site.
In their first years together, Monterey organized O'Neill's life, enabling him to devote himself to writing.
She later became addicted to potassium bromide, and the marriage deteriorated, resulting in a number of separations, although they never divorced.
He never saw Oona again.
He also had distant relationships with his sons.
Shane O'Neill became a heroin addict and moved into the family home in Bermuda, Spithead, with his new wife, where he supported himself by selling off the furnishings.
He was disowned by his father before also committing suicide (by jumping out of a window) a number of years later.
Oona ultimately inherited Spithead and the connected estate (subsequently known as the Chaplin Estate).
In 1950 O'Neill joined The Lambs, the famed theater club.
|Child||Date of birth||Date of death|
|Eugene O'Neill Jr.||5/5/1910||9/25/1950|
Illness and death
After suffering from multiple health problems (including depression and alcoholism) over many years, O'Neill ultimately faced a severe Parkinsons-like tremor in his hands which made it impossible for him to write during the last 10 years of his life; he had tried using dictation but found himself unable to compose in that way.
While at Tao House, O'Neill had intended to write a cycle of 11 plays chronicling an American family since the 1800s.
He managed to complete Moon for the Misbegotten in 1943, just before leaving Tao House and losing his ability to write.
Drafts of many other uncompleted plays were destroyed by Carlotta at Eugene's request.
As he was dying, he whispered his last words: "I knew it.
I knew it.
Born in a hotel room and died in a hotel room."
He also was present for O'Neill's death and announced the fact to the public.
In 1956 Carlotta arranged for his autobiographical play Long Day's Journey into Night to be published, although his written instructions had stipulated that it not be made public until 25 years after his death.
It was produced on stage to tremendous critical acclaim and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957.
This last play is widely considered to be his finest.
Only in 2000 was it discovered that he died of cerebellar cortical atrophy, a rare form of brain deterioration unrelated to either alcohol use or Parkinson's disease.
George C. White founded the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Connecticut in 1964.
Eugene O'Neill is a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.
O'Neill is referenced by Upton Sinclair in The Cup of Fury (1956), by J.K. ' character in SimmonsWhiplash (2014), and by Tony Stark in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), specifically Long Day's Journey into Night.
Museums and collections
O'Neill's home in New London, Monte Cristo Cottage, was made a National Historic Landmark in 1971.
His home in Danville, California, near San Francisco, was preserved as the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site in 1976.
The principal collection of O'Neill papers is at Yale University.
There is also a theatre in New York City named after him located at 230 West 49th Street in midtown-Manhattan.
See also: :Category:Plays by Eugene O'Neill
- Tomorrow, 1917. A Small Story published in The Seven Arts, Vol. II, No. 8 in June 1917.
- The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog, 1940. Written to comfort Carlotta as their "child" Blemie was approaching his death in December 1940.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene O'Neill.