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Eugene O'Neill Papers

Finding aid created by Miriam B. Spectre
Copyright 1998 by the Yale University Library.


Gift of Eugene O'Neill, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, and the estate of Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, 1942-1970.


The Eugene O'Neill Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.


Eugene O'Neill Papers. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.


This collection is open for research. Restricted Fragile in boxes 153-181 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies or photographic prints for reference use have been substituted in the main files.


Historically, the Eugene O'Neill Papers at Beinecke were comprised of a number of accessions unrelated by provenance and classified as Za O'Neill. These materials were processed between 1997 and 1998; at that time, they were separated by provenance into four collections: Eugene O'Neill Papers (YCAL MSS 123); Eugene O'Neill Collection (YCAL MSS 124); Agnes Boulton Collection of Eugene O'Neill (YCAL MSS 122); and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Collection (YCAL MSS 126).


Two sound recordings are located in Historical Sound Recordings: Mourning Becomes Electra (Preston Recording Company: New York); and first test dictations, experiments with distance of microphone, and readings from The Iceman Cometh and Long Day's Journey Into Night, all in the voice of Eugene O'Neill.


The Eugene O'Neill Papers document the life of the dramatist Eugene O'Neill, especially his life with Carlotta Monterey O'Neill after 1928. The collection consists of professional and family correspondence, manuscripts of O'Neill's writings and materials associated with his writings, photographs, artworks, recordings, legal and financial records, medical records, and personal and professional memorabilia. The papers span the years 1872 to 1970, but the bulk of the material is from 1930s to 1950s. The collection is organized into eight series: Eugene O'Neill Correspondence, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill Correspondence, Writings, Personal Papers, Photographs, Memorabilia, Artwork, and Recordings. The collection is housed in 185 boxes.

Series I, Eugene O'Neill Correspondence, is organized into three subseries: General Correspondence, Family Correspondence, and Third Party Correspondence. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically. Because Carlotta Monterey O'Neill often wrote on O'Neill's behalf, her letters from his lifetime have been interfiled in this series; her letters written after his death are filed in Series II, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill Correspondence.

The first subseries, General Correspondence, mainly contains holograph drafts of O'Neill's outgoing correspondence, but also includes some original letters to O'Neill and Carlotta. The subseries contains a significant number of original letters from O'Neill to his lawyers, Winfield E. Aronberg and Harry Weinberger, and to his literary agent, the Richard J. Madden Play Company, Inc., as well as carbons of their letters to him. These files appear to have been turned over to the O'Neills at some point by each firm. The files also contain the firms' original correspondence with third parties regarding O'Neill and his work. (Correspondence with known parties is located in third party correspondence.) The correspondence with O'Neill's lawyers concerns literary matters, taxes, and his divorce from Agnes Boulton. The correspondence with his literary agent mainly concerns production and publication of his plays. Other notable correspondents represented in this subseries include Barrett Harper Clark, Saxe Commins, Russel Crouse, Theresa Helburn, Lawrence Langner, Kenneth Macgowan, Leon Mirlas, George Jean Nathan, Carl Van Vechten, and Fania Marinoff Van Vechten. There are also three notebooks containing O'Neill's drafts of letters; these have been cross-referenced under the name of each correspondent. Letters from correspondents not listed individually may be found in "letter" general files. Unidentified correspondence is arranged at the end of the subseries.

The second subseries, Family Correspondence, contains original holograph and typescript letters between family members, as well as O'Neill's holograph drafts of letters. The subseries includes correspondence between O'Neill and his cousins, Agnes and Lillian Brennan; his daughter, Oona Chaplin; his third wife, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill; his sons, Eugene O'Neill, Jr. and Shane Rudraighe O'Neill; Carlotta's daughter, Cynthia Chapman Stram; and Carlotta's mother, Nellie Gotchett Tharsing. There is also correspondence between Carlotta and her third husband, Ralph Barton; Eugene O'Neill; and Eugene O'Neill, Jr.

The third subseries, Third Party Correspondence, contains correspondence between third parties and O'Neill's literary agent, the Richard J. Madden Play Company, Inc., and his lawyers, Harry Weinberger and Winfield E. Aronberg (the latter correspondence includes Eugene O'Neill, Jr.; James O'Neill, Jr.; and Kathleen Pitt-Smith). There are also three exchanges between O'Neill's father, James, and third parties regarding his acting.

Series II, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill Correspondence, is organized into two subseries: General Correspondence, and Family Correspondence. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically. The correspondence in this series occurred after O'Neill's death. (For any correspondence to or from Carlotta that took place during O'Neill's lifetime, see Series I.)

The first subseries, General Correspondence, mainly contains letters to Carlotta, although there are a few holograph drafts and carbons of letters from her. The correspondence mostly concerns her work regarding the publication and production of O'Neill's plays after his death. Correspondents include Karl Ragnar Gierow, Dudley Nichols, Jose Quintero, Lars Schmidt, Robert Sisk, and Yale University Press. There is also correspondence with O'Neill's biographers, including Arthur and Barbara Gelb, and Louis Sheaffer. There is a significant amount of correspondence with her lawyers at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, and at Nutter, McClennen & Fish; with the literary agency, Richard J. Madden Play Company, Inc.; and with the Yale University library system (the latter regarding Carlotta's gift to Yale of O'Neill's papers). There is some correspondence with friends, including Mai-Mai Sze, Carl Van Vechten, and Fania Marinoff Van Vechten. There are also three notebooks containing Carlotta's drafts of letters (in shorthand); these have been cross-referenced under the name of each correspondent. Letters from correspondents not listed individually may be found in "letter" general files. There is a small amount of unidentified correspondence at the end of the subseries.

The second subseries, Family Correspondence, contains letters from O'Neill's cousins, Agnes C. Brennan and Lillian Brennan; Carlotta's first husband, John Moffat; her daughter, Cynthia Chapman Stram; and her grandson, Gerald Eugene Stram (and his family). The subseries contains a few holograph drafts and carbons of letters from Carlotta.

Series III, Writings, is organized into six subseries: Plays, Poems, Other Writings, Notes, Work Diaries, and Writings of Others. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically. The first subseries, Plays, contains notes, outlines and plot summaries, holograph and typescript drafts, proofs, production and publication contracts, advertisements, programs, brochures, and clippings of reviews. Annotated proofs are located in this series; unannotated proofs and dummies are cataloged separately as printed material. Contracts for single plays are filed in this series; contracts that pertain to more than one play are located in Series IV, in the subseries, Financial and Legal Material. Photographs of productions are filed in Series V, in the subseries, Play Productions. Artwork relating to O'Neill's plays is filed in Series VII, Artwork. Plays represented in this subseries include Ah, Wilderness!, All God's Chillun Got Wings, Anna Christie, Days Without End, Dynamo, The Great God Brown, Hughie, The Iceman Cometh, Lazarus Laughed, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Marco Millions, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Mourning Becomes Electra, and Strange Interlude, among others. There is some material regarding the plagiarism suit brought against O'Neill for Strange Interlude. There are a significant number of notes regarding O'Neill's cycle plays, as well as drafts of More Stately Mansions and A Touch of the Poet.

The second subseries, Poems, contains mostly typescript drafts. Some of the typescripts appear to be original drafts that were annotated and signed by O'Neill; others are drafts of early poems from 1915 to 1917 that were typed by Carlotta on Tao House stationery in the 1940s. There are a few holograph drafts. In Series IV, there are also some poems by O'Neill that were copied by Carlotta into a volume (box 106, folder 1787).

The third subseries, Other Writings, contains drafts of O'Neill's tribute to his dog, the "Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O'Neill"; a draft of his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in 1936; clippings of O'Neill's tribute to George Pierce Baker after Baker's death in 1935; and a draft of his tribute to Maksim Gorky after Gorky's death in 1936. There are transcriptions by Carlotta for Inscriptions: Eugene O'Neill to Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, which was published in 1960 under O'Neill's name.

The fourth subseries, Notes, contains holograph notes on ideas for plays and for other writings. The notes for plays are not associated with specific plays that O'Neill wrote. (Notes on specific plays are filed in the subseries, Plays, under the title of each play). The notes span the years 1918 to 1938; many are undated. The fifth subseries, Work Diaries, contains four diaries in which O'Neill recorded where he was and what he was working on, from 1924 to 1943. He notes in the first diary that the information was copied from other diaries, except for 1925, which was written from memory (the original diary for 1925 is in the Agnes Boulton Collection of Eugene O'Neill, YCAL MSS 122, box 5, folder 171). The sixth subseries, Writings of Others, mainly contains writings about O'Neill's work and life by various authors, including Croswell Bowen, Barrett Harper Clark, Lawrence Langner, Jordan Yale Miller, and George Jean Nathan. There are also works by Eugene O'Neill, Jr., that he inscribed and sent to O'Neill and Carlotta.

Series IV, Personal Papers, is organized into eight subseries: Address Books, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill Diaries and Calendars, Certificates and Awards, Clippings and Ephemera, Financial and Legal Material, Inscriptions and Signatures, Medical Information, and Personal Writings and Notes. The first subseries, Address Books, contains five address and telephone books that are either in Carlotta's hand or are typewritten. One was signed by her in 1936; the others were probably created by her after O'Neill's death. The second subseries, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill Diaries and Calendars, contains Carlotta's diaries, from 1928 to 1964. These diaries appear to be copies that she made in the 1960s from older diaries; the entries concern her and O'Neill's activities.

The third subseries, Certificates and Awards, contains O'Neill's membership pins or certificates received from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, as well as awards and medals received during his lifetime for his plays, including the Nobel Prize and three Pulitzer Prizes. Awarded posthumously were the Antoinette Perry Award, a plaque from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, a Pulitzer Prize, and a certificate showing the 1967 O'Neill postage stamp. This subseries also contains O'Neill's honorary doctorate from Yale University (1926), and one medal that Carlotta received in 1962 from Dramatiska teatern.

The fourth subseries, Clippings and Ephemera, contains clippings from newspapers and magazines; brochures; and programs regarding relatives, friends, and associates, including Ralph Barton, Agnes Boulton, Oona Chaplin, James O'Neill, and Shane Rudraighe O'Neill. There is also material concerning O'Neill and Carlotta themselves. The fifth subseries, Financial and Legal Material, contains contracts and royalty information for productions and publications of O'Neill's plays. The contracts in this subseries each pertain to more than one play. (Any contract that pertains to a single play is filed under the name of that play in Series III.) This subseries also contains cancelled checks, checkbooks, documents regarding O'Neill's and Carlotta's marriage and living expenses in France, tax information, copies of O'Neill's and Carlotta's wills, O'Neill's certificate of discharge as a seaman (1911), a copy of O'Neill's parents' marriage certificate and of his mother's birth certificate.

The sixth subseries, Inscriptions and Signatures, contains inscriptions and signatures that were removed from books owned by O'Neill and Carlotta. The inscriptions are to them from various people and from each other. The seventh subseries, Medical Information, contains a medical record kept by O'Neill's nurse, by his doctor, and by Carlotta, from 1951 until his death in November 1953. There are notes by O'Neill listing the dates that he took the drug, tolserol. There is also a copy of his death certificate and of his autopsy report. In addition, there are medical notes regarding Carlotta from 1954 to 1963. The eighth subseries, Personal Writings and Notes, contains O'Neill's autobiographical notes and a diagram that he made of his family relationship; there is also a folder of his signatures that were cut from envelopes and financial documents. There are notes and reminiscences written by Carlotta about O'Neill and other topics. There are a few writings by O'Neill's father, including his version of Monte Cristo.

Series V, Photographs, is organized into nine subseries: Eugene O'Neill, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, Other Family, Other People, Albums, Animals, Places, Objects, and Play Productions. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. Some of the photographs are copies and have been so noted. (In these cases, the library does not own the original.) In addition to photographic prints, there are negatives in this collection (though stored separately). In the case of negatives for which there was no corresponding print, the Library had one copy print made; this information is specified after the folder title.

The first subseries, Eugene O'Neill, contains photographs from 1889 to 1948, including images of O'Neill as a baby and as a young child. The second subseries, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, spans the years from the 1890s to 1960, and includes some photographs from Carlotta's modeling and acting careers. The third subseries, Other Family, contains photographs of family members, including Agnes Boulton; Oona and Charlie Chaplin; Eugene O'Neill, Jr.; O'Neill's parents, James O'Neill and Mary Ellen Quinlan O'Neill; Shane Rudraighe O'Neill; Carlotta's daugher, Cynthia Chapman Stram; Carlotta's grandson, Gerald Eugene Stram; Carlotta's great-grand-daughter, Denise Dayle Stram; and Carlotta's mother, Nellie Gotchett Tharsing. The fourth subseries, Other People, contains photographs of non-family members, including Ingrid Bergman, Ilka Chase, Lillian Gish, George Jean Nathan, Marian Seldes, James Speyer, Carl Van Vechten, Fania Marinoff Van Vechten, and some of the O'Neills' servants at Casa Genotta and at Tao House. There are a few photographs that were probably collected by James O'Neill of Sarah Bernhardt and Edwin Booth.

The fifth subseries, Albums, contains four albums of photographs from the O'Neills' time in France, and five miniature albums of photographs from their time at Tao House in California. There is also a scrapbook that Carlotta made in 1954 that contains copies of photographs from her life with O'Neill. The contents of each album are listed in the Appendix. The sixth subseries, Animals, contains photographs of the O'Neills' dog, Ben, at Chateau du Plessis; their dog, Silverdene Emblem; and the dog of Carlotta's first husband, John Moffat. The seventh subseries, Places, contains photographs of places where the O'Neills lived, such as Chateau du Plessis in France; Beacon Farm in Northport, New York; Casa Genotta in Sea Island, Georgia; Tao House in California; and Marblehead, Massachusetts. There are also photographs of places that the O'Neills visited, such as Pompeii, Italy; Cap-d'Ail, France; and Wolf Lake, New York.

The eighth subseries, Objects, contains photographs of Egyptian statues in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; O'Neill's Renault car at Chateau du Plessis; a silver bracelet; a statue of a Chinese dog; and flower arrangements (the latter photographs were taken by Carl Van Vechten). The ninth subseries, Play Productions, contains photographs of various productions of O'Neill's plays, from 1916 to 1966. When the photographer was specified on the print, this has been listed in the folder description. The earliest photographs are from a 1916 production of Bound East for Cardiff by the Provincetown Players. O'Neill himself appears in two photographs of the Provincetown Players' 1916 production of Thirst. There also are many photographs from Dudley Nichols's film adaptation of Mourning Becomes Electra in 1947.

Series VI, Memorabilia, is organized into three subseries: Office Material, Personal Effects, and Other. The first subseries, Office Material, contains book-related items, including bookends and bookplates; various kinds of stationery, including writing paper, postcards, unused notebooks, and visiting cards; and writings tools, including a pen, pencils, erasers, and leather writing portfolios. The second subseries, Personal Effects, contains items relating to O'Neill, Carlotta, and O'Neill's brother, James, including Carlotta's braid of hair and two locks of her hair; war ration books; money that O'Neill won in a crap game on the S. S. Coblenz in 1928; a bank case containing French receipts; and James's missal case. This subseries also contains O'Neill's monogrammed leather jewelry box (holding various pieces of jewelry, and accessories belonging to O'Neill and to Carlotta); O'Neill's Cartier pocket watch; and O'Neill's and Carlotta's gold rings. The third subseries, Other, contains branches and leaves (possibly from a tree at Casa Genotta) in a frame, Blemie's dog collar, two banners (1956 and 1958) from Dramatiska teatern in Stockholm, and a map of the Hudson River inscribed by James Speyer.

Series VII, Artwork, contains art that was collected by, or given to, O'Neill and Carlotta. In this series are portraits of O'Neill, including works by Cyrus Leroy Baldridge, Miguel Covarrubias, and Edmond Thomas Quinn. There are seven drawings by Alfred Joseph Frueh that were given by Frueh to Carlotta; one is a portrait of Carlotta, and two are valentines. Some of the artwork pertains to O'Neill's plays, including a print by Al Hirschfeld of The Iceman Cometh, two watercolors by Robert Edmond Jones of scenes in The Iceman Cometh, and three watercolors by Jones of scenes in Mourning Becomes Electra. There are some artworks by unidentified artists, including a silhouette of James O'Neill as Virginius, a statue of a Chinese god of the theatre, two Noh masks, and a watercolor of a scene in China.

Series VIII, Recordings, contains five recordings (all after O'Neill's death) on phonograph records, including two commercial recordings of O'Neill's plays, two recordings by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (one of Desire Under the Elms and one entitled "Tribute to E. O'Neil(l)"), and one recording that appears to be of a dinner at Quo Vadis Restaurant in 1963.


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