Eugene Gladstone O’Neill

1888 – 1953

America’s First Major Playwright

When Eugene O’Neill began writing for the stage early in the 20th century, the American theatre was dominated by vaudeville and romantic melodramas. Influenced by Strindberg, Ibsen, and other European playwrights, O’Neill vowed to create a theatre in America, stripped of false sentimentality, which would explore the deepest stirrings of the human spirit. In 1914, he wrote: “I want to be an artist or nothing.”

During the 1920s, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for three of his plays–Beyond the Horizon, “Anna Christie,” and Strange Interlude. Other popular successes, including The Emperor Jones, The Hairy Ape, Desire Under the Elms, The Great God Brown, and Mourning Becomes Electra, brought him international acclaim. In 1936, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature–the only American playwright to be so honored.

O’Neill experimented with new dramatic techniques and dared tackle such controversial issues as interracial marriage, the equality of the sexes, the power of the unconscious mind, and the hold of materialism on the American soul. In each of his plays, he sought to reveal the mysterious forces “behind life” which shape human destiny.

Three of his final works, written at Tao House, tower over the others: The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. These autobiographical plays portray, with “faithful realism,” the haunting figures of his father, mother, and brother who loom in the background of most of his other plays. He was awarded a fourth Pulitzer Prize, posthumously, in 1956 for Long Day’s Journey into Night.

In a career which spanned three decades, Eugene O’Neill changed the American theatre forever.


Bibliography of Plays

1. A Wife for a Life (1913)
2. The Web (1913)
3. Thirst (1913)
4. Warnings (1913)
5. Recklessness (1913)
6. Fog (1914)
7. Bread and Butter (1914)
8. The Movie Man (1914)
9. Bound East for Cardiff (1914)
10. Abortion (1914)
11. Servitude (1914)
12. The Sniper (1915)
13. The Personal Equation (1915)
14. Before Breakfast (1916)
15. Now I Ask You (1917)
16. In the Zone (1917)
17. Ile (1917)
18. The Long Voyage Home (1917)
19. The Moon of the Caribbees (1917)
20. The Rope (1918)
21. Beyond the Horizon (1918) – Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 1920
22. Shell Shock (1918)
23. The Dreamy Kid (1918)
24. Where the Cross is Made (1918)
25. Exorcism (1919)
26. The Straw (1919)
27. Chris Christopherson (1919)
28. Gold (1920)
29. Anna Christie (1920) – Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 1922
30. The Emperor Jones (1920)
31. Diff’rent (1920)
32. The First Man (1921)
33. The Hairy Ape (1921)
34. The Fountain (1923)
35. Welded (1923)
36. All God’s Chillun Got Wings (1924)
37. Desire Under the Elms (1924)
38. Marco Millions (1925)
39. The Great God Brown (1926)
40. Lazarus Laughed (1926)
41. Strange Interlude (1928) – Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 1928
42. Dynamo (1929)
43. Mourning Becomes Electra (1931)
44. Ah, Wilderness! (1933)
45. Days Without End (1933)
46. A Touch of the Poet (1935-1942)
47. More Stately Mansions (1936-1939), Unfinished
———– 1937, Eugene and Carlotta move into Tao House ———–
48. The Iceman Cometh (1939)
49. Long Day’s Journey into Night (1941) – Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 1957
50. Hughie (1941)
51. A Moon for the Misbegotten (1943)


Online Resources

eOneill.com – An Electronic O’Neill Archive including full text of selective plays, production archive of O’Neill’s works and other academic resources.
Wikipedia – The Wikipedia entry for Eugene O’Neill
Eugene O’Neill Society – A non-profit scholarly and professional organization devoted to the promotion and study of the life and works of Eugene O’Neill and the drama and theatre for which his work was in large part the instigator and model.
The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center – Founded in 1964 by George C. White, in honor of America’s only Nobel Prize-winning playwright, the O’Neill is home to the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Theater Institute, and more. The O’Neill Center also manages and operates the Monte Cristo Cottage, O’Neill’s childhood home located in neighboring New London.