1888-1953 American Playwright

He was born in New York City. The son of actor James O'Neill, he toured with his father when young, and studied at Princeton 1906--07 and Harvard 1914--15. He worked as an assistant stage manager for his father 1910, as a sailor and laborer in Buenos Aires, Argentina 1910--11, and as an actor 1912. While spending time in a sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis 1912, he began to write the plays that made him an icon of American theater.

Beginning in 1916, he was associated with the Provincetown Players, where many of his early plays were produced. A restless man, plagued by depression and an illness later diagnosed as Parkinson's disease, he lived in various locations, including New York City, California, and Boston. He wrote passionate works that were derived from his own obsessions, pain, and spiritual quest, such as:

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1936.

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Sources: www.eoneill.com/ McMichael, George, "Anthology of American Literature", Macmillan Publishing, NY, 1974 Last Updated 04.10.04

Eugene O'Neill also wrote a short sentimental epitaph entitled The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog for his third wife, the actress Carlotta Monterey. They considered their dog "Silverdene Emblem O'Neill" aka "Blemie" to be their surrogate child. Just before Blemie died of old age in December 1940, O'Neill wrote it to comfort his wife. It is written in the perspective of Blemie as an old dying dog. It is quite simple, and it is exactly what you would expect a distinguished dog to say.

Eugene O'Neill is widely accepted to be the first American playwright to write tragedies. He had a troubled childhood, and this is reflected in the somber mood of his plays. His mother became a morphine addict directly after his birth, and he always blamed himself for this. From the very beginning, he felt guilty just for being born.

When he was in his early twenties, he attempted suicide. Throughout the course of his life, he married three times. His third wife was the actress Carlotta Monteray, whom he loved intensely. He actually had an affair with Carlotta Monteray during his second marriage.

Probably his most defining characteristic is that he wrote copious amounts of stage directions. Some of his critics argue that this was almost "cheating", because it resembled prose. He actually did these stage directions because he published his plays with the intent that they would be read as well as seen.

He died in 1953.

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