29 June 2005
O'NEILL, Eugene (1888-1953). The Iceman Cometh. New York: Random House, 1946.
8o. Original blue cloth; dust jacket (some chipping and fading); imaginative quarter morocco folding case. Provenance: May Davenport Seymore (presentation inscription from the author).
FIRST EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY O'NEILL on the front free endpaper: "For May Davenport Seymore, with affectionate respects and all the luck there is to you and Ann. Eugene O'Neill. March, 1947." Davenport was curator of the theatre collection at the Museum of the City of New York. Inscribed titles from this period in O'Neill's life are uncommon, since the playwright was stricken with a neurodegenerative disease in 1944 that left him unable to work or sign too many books.
In 1936, O'Neill had received the Nobel Prize for literature. He planned, over the next decade, to work on a nine-play series depicting American history through two centuries of one family's struggles. Only two plays of this series survive, but O'Neill also wrote three of his greatest -- and most autobiographical -- works during this period. The Iceman Cometh, the first of these, restored O'Neill to Broadway. The other two are Long Day's Journey into Night and A Moon for the Misbegotten. Laid in is a 1947 greeting card inscribed and signed by Carlotta O'Neill on behalf of herself and her husband. Atkinson A35-I-I.a.
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