Eugene O'Neill in Boston


Eugene O'Neill, the Irish playwright known for his works Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh had a bit of a history in this area. In 1914 he enrolled in a playwright course at Harvard, taught by George Baker. He also participated with the Provincetown Players in a small building on a Commercial Street wharf. Many of his plays were first performed here, including Bound East for Cardiff. In 1916 they decided to make themselves an official theatre company. Other plays produced in Provincetown were Before Breakfast, Fog, The Sniper, 'Ile, The Long Voyage Home, and The Rope.

In addition to living in many parts of the world, O'Neill seemed to return to New England both personally and in his work. He lived in Marblehead. He set his play Mourning Becomes Electra in New England. According to Susan Wilson in her book Literary Trail of Great Boston, "O'Neill enjoyed the dubious honor of being 'banned in Boston.' In 1928, his long and experimental Strange Interlude was not allowed to play on Boston stages – though it proved a sellout in nearby Quincy" (71).

In his last years O'Neill and his wife lived in Boston in order to be closer to their doctors. O'Neill died in room 401 in Shelton Hall on Bay State Road, now a BU Dorm. Legend has it his last words were, "I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room and died in a hotel room." Legend also has it that his ghost haunts the floor, now deemed the "Writer's Corridor" (but in the year our editor-in-chief lived there she wasn't aware of any supernatural, somber Irish presence!). He's buried in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain.