Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill (New York City, October 16, 1888 – November 27, 1953 in Boston) was an American playwright. More than any other dramatist, O'Neill brought the dramatic realism pioneered by Chekov, Ibsen, and Strindberg into the American canon. Generally, his plays involve characters who inhabit the fringes of society, where they struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations but ultimately slide into dillusionment and despair.
Although born in New York City, O'Neill's early life was intimately connected to New London, Connecticut. His father was stage actor James O'Neill, who had owned property in New London before Eugene's birth. As an adult, O'Neill was employed by the New London Telegraph, and wrote his first plays while living there. (Connecticut College maintains an O'Neill archive and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Waterford fosters the development of new plays under his name.) In 1929 he moved to the Loire Valley of northwest France, where he lived in the Chateau du Plessis in St. Antoine-du-Rocher , Indre-et-Loire. He moved to Danville, California in 1937 and resided there until 1944. His home there, known as "Tao House," is today the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site. In 1953, O'Neill checked himself into a residential hotel in Boston and drank himself to death in room 401. The building is now used as a dorm for Boston University and bears a plaque dedicated to O'Neill.
O'Neill's first published play, Beyond the Horizon, opened on Broadway in 1920 to great acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His best-known plays include Desire Under the Elms, Strange Interlude (for which he again won the Pultizer Prize), Mourning Becomes Electra, and his career's only comedy Ah, Wilderness!, a wistful re-imagining of his own youth as he wished it had been. In 1936 he became the first American dramatist to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. 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 would not gain recognition and placement among his best works until decades later.
In 1956, three years after O'Neill's death, his autobiographical masterpiece Long Day's Journey Into Night was published and produced on stage. His other posthoumously published plays were A Touch of the Poet (1958) and More Stately Mansions (1967).
His widow Carlotta Monterey was O'Neill's third wife. The aging dramatist renounced his daughter Oona for marrying Charlie Chaplin when she was only 18 years old (Chaplin was one year her father's junior).
- Beyond the Horizon
- Strange Interlude
- A Moon for the Misbegotten
- Desire Under the Elms
- Mourning Becomes Electra
- Ah, Wilderness!
- The Iceman Cometh
- Long Day's Journey Into Night
- A Touch of the Poet
- More Stately Mansions
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