Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill

Playwright


Biography


Eugene O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel Laureate in Literature. His autobiographic masterpiece, A Long Day's Journey Into Night is widely regarded as one of the greatest American plays of all time.

O’Neill was born in New York City in 1888. He had a challenging childhood and this was reflected in the tragic nature of his plays. His mother was addicted to morphine and O’Neill spent much of his youth on the road with his father, who was a stage actor. After spending time at boarding school, he enrolled in Princeton University but he left the college just ten months later. After spending a period of time drinking, carousing, and indulging in a brief marriage, O’Neill developed tuberculosis. During his recuperation, he began to write and enrolled in a writing class in Harvard University. In 1916, his first one-act play, Bound East for Cardiff, was produced in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

In 1920, O’Neill’s play Beyond The Horizon premiered in 1920 and was a huge success, winning the Pulitzer Prize. This was shortly followed by Emperor Jones in the same year. Two years later, the Broadway premiere of Anna Christie earned O’Neill his second Pulitzer Prize. Following the death his parents and brother, O’Neill poured his private grief into his writing and his dramas; Desire Under the Elms (1924) and Strange Interlude (1928), followed.

In 1936, O’Neill became the first American playwright to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Although he wrote his famous, autobiographical play A Long Day's Journey Into Night in the early 1940s, he refused to allow it to be published until after his own death. Instead, he spent time away from the stage, returning in 1946 with one of his darkest plays, The Iceman Cometh.

The following year, O’Neill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and found himself unable to write due to the tremors in his hands. He died six years later of bronchial pneumonia with an incredible legacy of over 50 plays. Finally, A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, premiered on Broadway in 1957, winning O’Neill a posthumous Tony Award and third Pulitzer Prize.


Shows by Eugene O'Neill

Title
Synopsis

Ah, Wilderness is one of the few comedies ever written by Eugene O’Neill. It represents a strong departure from his usual gritty family dramas in that it depicts a loving family in turn of the century Connecticut. Wilderness... read more

A hard-hitting, yet humorous drama, Anna Christie depicts the reunion of a troubled father and daughter in the docks of New York. Chris Christopherson is an old sailor who has spent his life on the seas, to the detriment of h... read more

Beyond the Horizon tells the story of brothers Andrew and Robert . While Andrew plans to inherit the family farm and stay on the land, Robert - now recovered from a lengthy illness - will set sail with his uncle, and venture... read more

In the shadow of two elms sits a stately but aging farmhouse, overseeing rocky and walled farmlands, owned and operated by Ephraim Cabot since he purchased the land as a young man over 40 years ago. This farm, with the blood,... read more

Emperor Jones is a fascinating exploration of the mental decline of the self-imposed emperor of a small Caribbean island. Brutus Jones is a former Pullman porter and convict who has escaped to an island in the West Indies and... read more

Harry Hope’s rundown saloon is filled with men from all walks of life: former anarchist “foolosopher” Larry Slade, bickering Boer War veterans Captain Lewis and General Wetjoen, formerly wealthy African-American gambler Joe M... read more

One of the most lauded plays in the history of American theater, Long Day’s Journey Into Night is the masterpiece of Eugene O’Neill. It is O’Neill’s most autobiographical play, and was so deeply personal that the author requ... read more

A Moon for the Misbegotten is the story of a doomed man’s guilt and the woman who tries desperately to love him. Moon is the sequel to the events in O’Neill’s , and features the elder Tyrone brother as the main character. Ja... read more

A trilogy of tragic plays inspired by Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy, Mourning Becomes Electra is Eugene O’Neill’s tragic masterpiece, rivaled only by Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Set in New England at the time of the American... read more

Overview

Nationality
American
Born
10/16/1888
Died
11/27/1953
Show Categories
Play
Genres
Comedy, Drama, Historical/Biographical

Clips