Illustration by Maria Manhattan
Eugene O’Neill was born in New York, New York on October 16, 1888 into an Irish-Catholic theatrical family. He spent his early days in hotels and railroad cars with his mother following his father, who was an actor, as he toured in the lead role of The Count of Monte Cristo. The renowned and prolific dramatist led a bohemian lifestyle and was a member of the Provincetown Players and spent time at Monte Cristo Cottage in New London, Connecticut and Tao House in California. O’Neill’s art was influenced by what he considered to be “life experience.” The playwright revolutionized the American theatre with his tragedies—setting a path for Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Tony Kushner, and others. He won Pulitzer Prizes for Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, Strange Interlude, and the first ever, posthumous award of the Pulitzer for Long Day’s Journey Into Night in 1957. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1936—the only American playwright ever to receive the honor.