Eugene Gladstone O’Neill: Chronology of Life

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16 October 1888 Eugene Gladstone O’Neill was born at Barrett House, a New York City hotel to James and Ella O’Neill.

1888-95 Spends first years with parents on actor father's theatrical road tours and a family summer home in New London, Connecticut.

1895-1902 Attends St. Aloysius Academy for Boys in the Riverdale section of the Bronx for five years, and De La Salle Institute in New York City (two years).

1902-1906 Attends Princeton University, a non-sectarian private school in Connecticut.

1906-1907 Attends Princeton University; suspended for prank before examination in June; no incentive to return.

1907-1908 Works as a secretary in a New York mail-order business; interest in anarchism and Nietzsche grows.

1908-1909 Sets out for Honduras on gold-prospecting trip arranged by father two weeks after marriage on October 2, 1900, to the pregnant Kathleen Jenkins.

1910 Returns from Honduras, tours with father in The White Sister; Eugene Jr. born in May; sails to Buenos Aires in June on Charles Racine; arrives in Argentina in August; becomes destitute after quitting jobs with American companies.

1911 Returns to New York on the Ikala in April; lives at Jimmy the Priest’s, a waterfront saloon-hotel’ ships for Southampton as seaman on the American Line’s New York in July and returns on the Philadelphia in August.

1912 Attempts suicide in January at Jimmy the Priest’s; joins father’s The Count of Cristo vaudeville tour in New Orleans; returns to summer home in New London and becomes a reporter for the Telegraph in August; is divorced by Kathleen; enters Gaylord Farm Sanatorium on Christmas Eve for treatment of tuberculosis.

1913-1914 Reads works of Strindberg and others during confinement- in a sanatorium and decides to become a playwright; after release in June 1913, while recuperating at the family home and at the Rippins’ house, where he boarded, he writes a vaudeville sketch, A Wife for a Life; eight one-acters, The Web, Thirst, Recklessness, Warning, Fog, Bound East for Cardiff, Abortion, and The Movie Man; and two long plays, Bread and Butter and Servitude.

1914-1915 Enters Baker’s English 47 class at Harvard in September; completes one year of the playwriting course and two extant plays, the one-acter The Sniper and the four-act “The Personal Equation”.

1915-1916 Goes to Greenwich Village in the foil and spends an unproductive year there; Absorbs atmosphere at the Hell Hole, which is used later in work; travels in June 1916 to Provincetown where two plays, Bound East for Cardiff and Thirst, are staged by an amateur group, known later as the Provincetown Players; writes three-act farce-comedy Now I Ask You and one-acter Before Breakfast; returns to New York in the fall with the Players; group opens The Playwrights’ Theatre and stages Before Breakfast on December! and all but one of O’Neill’s plays in next four years; complete two short stories.

1917-1918 Moves to Provincetown where he writes three of the Glencairn plays, In the Zone, The Long Voyage Home, and The Moon of the Caribbean, and lies in winter-spring 1917; completes a short story,“ The Hairy Ape” and a novelette. “S.O.S.”; meets Agnes Boulton, a fiction writer, in fall while attending rehearsals for plays in New York returns to Provincetown with Agnes, and marries her.

April 12, 1918; that year he completes four one-acters; Shell Shock, The Rope, The Dreamy Kid and Where the Cross Is Made; the three-act Beyond the Horizon and the first draft of The Straw; an account of his stay at Gaylord.

1919 Spends winter at wife’s home in West Point Pleasant, New Jersey; records many ideas for plays but writes little of value completes Chris Christopherson, which fails and is later rewritten as Anna Christie, and a revised version of The Straw; moves to a new home in Provincetown, Peaked Hill Bars; leaves this isolated summer home for rented house in Provincetown where son Shane is born October 30.

1920 Receives Pulitzer Prize for Beyond the Horizon; abandons the one-acter for longer forms, writing Gold, Anna Christie, and Different; begins, with The Emperor Jones, the experimental plays of the 1920s; father dies on August 10.

1921-22 Gains international acclaim for expressionist works The Hairy Ape and The Emperor Jones; wins Pulitzer Prize for Anna Christie; writes The First Man, The Fountain, and Welded; mother dies on February 28, 1922; Purchases Brook Farm in Ridgefield, Connecticut, for winter home.

1923-27 Writes major works of the 1920s; the controversial plays All God’s Chillun Got Wings, and Desire Under the Elms; and Marco Millions, The Great God Brown, Lazarus Laughed, and Strange Interlude; brother Jamie dies November, 1923; daughter Oona born May 14, 1924; moves to Bermuda at the end of 1924 and purchases a home, Spithead, there in 1926; spends summer and fall in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, where he meets Carlotta Monterey, with whom he later fells in love; sells Brook Farm in 1927; leaves Agnes, his children, and Spithead in November 1927, ostensibly to discuss the Theatre Guild’s productions of Marco Millions and Strange Interlude; but decides not to return to family.

1928-1931 At the height of his fame and popularity in America in the 1920s; receives Pulitzer Prize for Strange Interlude; after play opens, elopes with Carlotta on February 10, 1928, on the Southampton-bound S.S. Berengaria; begins Dynamo at Guethary, France; sails in October with Carlotta on the S.S. Andre Lebon for Singapore, Saigon, and Shanghai; return to France in January 1929; finishes Dynamo in April and works for the next two years on Mourning Becomes Electra; Agnes reluctantly obtains divorce ‘he marries Carlotta July 22, 1929; Dynamo is pronounced a failure by critics; returns to New York on May 17, 1931; attends rehearsals in fall for trilogy, which is an artistic and critical success.

1932-33 Moves to Sea Island, Georgia, in April 1932 and into newly built home, Casa Genotta, in June; except for the month devoted to the Autobiographical Ah! Wilderness!, an immensely popular comedy, works continuously on Days Without End from February 1932 to December 1933; “returns toward Catholicism”.

1934-1938 Days Without End is a critical failure when it opens on January 7, 1934; ordered in March to take a six-month rest to prevent nervous breakdown Works on eleven-play Cycle for next two years until ill health prompts him to leave Georgia for the West Coast; in Seattle in November 1936 when notified of Nobel Prize award; hospitalized from December 27 to March 2, 1937, in Oakland, California; resumes the Cycle plays in June and works on them for next two years; settles in December 1937 in newly built home, Tao House, in Danville, California.

1939-43 Conceives the first idea on June 6, 1939, for two greatest plays, The Iceman Cometh and Long Day’s Journey into Night; interrupts work on them to develop ideas for three ant-totalitarian plays; completes only Hughie, in September 1941; resumes work on the Cycle but finish only A Touch of the Poet and a type script for More Stately Mansions; tremor in hands makes it impossible to continue writing; completes final play, A Moon for the Misgotten, in 1943.

1944-47 Moves to the Hotel Fairmont in San Francisco after sale of Tao House in February 1944; depressed by failing health and inability to write; leaves West Coast on October 17, 1945, and settles in New York; plans two productions with the Theatre Guild, The Iceman Cometh, which opens on October 9, 1946, and A Moon for the Misbegotten, which closed during its road tour in 1947 before reaching Broadway.

1948-51 Relinquishes all hope of ever writing again; moves to Boston and returns to the mystical sea; purchases home in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and lives there, unobtrusively, until hospitalized in February 1951; breaks with Carlotta but reconciles in May; laments suicide of son Eugene in September 1950.

1951-53 Lives last two and one-half years at the Hotel Shelton in Boston, isolated from friends by Carlotta; destroys unfinished Cycle plays illness debilitates his body increases his dependence on wife; death comes, hastened by his longing for release from life.

27 November 1953 Died at the Hotel Shelton and is buried in a private ceremony at Forest Hills Cemetery.

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