Get to know Eugene O’Neill ahead of Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Eugene O’Neill is one of the most influential writers of the 20thcentury, without him there would be no Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams or Sam Shepard. His Long Day’s Journey Into Night is considered a pinnacle of 20th century American theatre. The autobiographical story is so personal and candid that O’Neill says he wrote it in “blood and tears”, and wouldn't allow it to be published in his lifetime.

So, here's five things you should know about the great American playwright. Swot up and impress your friends ahead of the show!

Eugene O'Neill in 1936
By Nobel Foundation, via Wikimedia Commons

1.       Eugene O’Neill‘s father was an actor whose greatest success was on the road so the family spent most of their lives travelling. O’Neill was actually born in a hotel room in Times Square, New York in 1888. He also died in a hotel room – in Boston in 1953.

2.       Like the character of Edmund in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, O’Neill battled tuberculosis. It was while he was recovering from his illness in a sanatorium that he found his calling as a playwright.

3.       O’Neill is the only American dramatist to be awarded the Nobel Prize, and the only person to have won four Pulitzer Prizes. He first won the Pulitzer Prize aged 31 for Beyond the Horizon. He was also awarded the prize for Anna Christie, Strange Interlude and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. 

4.       O’Neill wrote Long Day’s Journey Into Night for his third wife Carlotta Monterey on their 12th wedding anniversary. He requested that the play only be published 25 years after his death. His widow, however, waited just three years and the play was released in 1956. 

5.      O’Neill  continues to be referenced in literature and film. Jack Nicholson played Eugene O’Neill in Warren Beatty’s 1981 film Reds. Nicholson was nominated for the Academy Award for best Supporting Actor for his performance. 

Lorn Macdonald and Bríd Ní Neachtain in rehearsals for Long Day's Journey Into Night

Long Day’s Journey Into Night runs at the Citizens Theatre from 13 Apr – 5 May.
It will then go to HOME Manchester 10 - 26 May.