Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953) was born in New York to an actor father and drug-addicted mother. His brother was an alcoholic, and the illnesses and depression that dogged O'Neill through his life set in during his youth.
He went to Princeton University but left after a year. He spent the next several years as a seaman in Buenos Aires, prospecting for gold in Honduras and working as an actor and journalist.
In 1912, after attempting suicide and entering a tuberculosis sanitarium, he decided to be a playwright.
O'Neill went on to win four Pulitzer prizes and a Nobel Award for his plays. He also wrote several works of non-fiction and a collection of poetry. Today even his critics agree he had a phenomenal influence on American theater.
Pub Date: 8/25/96