LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
1. From Jay E. Raphael, Department of Drama, University of Virginia, January 7, 1980:
Mine is a note of appreciation. Although the address and the degrees bespeak an academician, I'm essentially an actor and a director who, some thirteen years ago, tripped over the Gelb biography and developed an intense interest in and admiration for Eugene O'Neill. While I have managed to read everything between covers in English on O'Neill's life and writings, I long ago gave up on staying current with the periodical literature. Therefore, I am grateful for your bibliographical listings, reprints and abstracts. And as someone concerned primarily with the live theatre I also wish to encourage the continued listing of productions (both commercial and academic), film showings, and special theatrical events.
Having subscribed since your first edition, I can express admiration for the growth and increasing scope of the project but I would like to urge you to maintain the "homey" aspects of the newsletter such as Bill Costley's "Spithead Revisited, 1979" [January 1980, pp. 5-6. --Ed.]. The little scholarly pickings, notes and queries, anecdotes, and personal reports of the "devoted" give a special flavor to the newsletter and put me in contact with the readership in a way that gives your enterprise a special identity.
As for requests and suggestions, I would be interested in (1) a bibliographical/ collector's article providing some expert advice and perhaps a report on the current market re collecting first editions of O'Neill's plays; (2) a listing of the films made from or based on O'Neill's plays complete with names and addresses for obtaining rental information; and (3) special projects, seminar descriptions, syllabi, etc., pertaining to unique approaches to teaching O'Neill on the college level in literature and theatre departments.
Again, my thanks for your labor and the quality of the product. Continued success in the new year.
[The commendation is greatly appreciated; I will try to continue balancing the short and the long, the light and the lofty, and will share all production information that comes my way. Mr. McKenna's letter, which follows, is the start of an answer to the bibliographic request. I hope that other readers will follow that lead. --Ed.]
2. From John H. McKenna, New York City, March 17, 1980:
I am a collector of books by and about Eugene O'Neill. Recently, I have come across references to several books, each unique in its own way, which may be of interest to you and your readers.
Sotheby's at Chancery Lane, London, offered for sale on December 7, 1979 a presentation copy of the first edition of "The Iceman Cometh," inscribed by the author to Dudley Digges, who starred in the first production of the play, accompanied by a letter from Carlotta Monterey O'Neill. The inscription reads: "To Dudley Digges - with much affectionate friendship and my deepest gratitude for your splendid acting which did so much to make The Iceman Cometh a success:" Regrettably, I was an unsuccessful bidder on this book. It sold for 750 pounds.
At the California Antiquarian Book Fair (February 7, 8, and 9, 1980) in Los Angeles, a West Coast dealer offered an advance uncorrected proof copy of "Days without End" with O'Neill's inscription on the flyleaf reading: "To Bob Sisk - with all friendship and grateful appreciation: Eugene O'Neill Dec. 1933." It is also inscribed on the front cover: "To Bob Sisk, all friendship: Gene, Dec. 1933." O'Neill has also written "uncorrected proof 'Days without End'" in the corner. The copy bears a later inscription from Sisk to a third party, not identified.
I own a copy of "Mourning Becomes Electra," first edition, sixth printing with an inscription that reads: "To James Boshell - 'Bordon' with grateful appreciation'. Eugene O'Neill Christmas, 1931." The book is also signed by 18 members of the original cast.
I have a catalogue of the Engel Collection presented to Columbia University which includes "Bound East for Cardiff," New York, Frank Shay, 1916 (Provincetown Plays First Series) and inscribed: "To the 'Cap' with the best wishes of the least worthy of his crew. Gene O'Neill."
I try to keep track of presentation copies as they come on the market as well as copies of his plays that have been owned by actors. I have a copy of "Strange Interlude" signed by several members of a cast that included Gale Sondergaard in the role of Nina Leeds.
I thought I would pass this information on as it may be of interest to some of your readers. Perhaps some of them know of additional material not included in the major O'Neill collections. I hope you find it of some interest.
[It is of great interest indeed. I will include in the next issue any additions that other readers submit. Many thanks for starting the series. --Ed.]
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