THE EUGENE O'NEILL COLLECTION AT YALE*
It was George Pierce Baker who was primarily responsible for both Yale's offer to give an honorary degree to Eugene O'Neill and O'Neill's decision to accept it. Baker pointed out to him on 5 May 1926 that the award was another mile-post in the recognition of the literary artist in America, and O'Neill replied on the 21st: "I appreciate that this is a true honor ... and that this recognition of my work really should have a genuine significance for all those who are trying, as I am, to do original, imaginative work for the theatre." He expressed his pleasure that Yale would at the same time be honoring Professor Baker through one of his students. And so Eugene O'Neill came to New Haven and on 23 June 1926 received his Doctor of Letters degree--the only honorary degree he ever accepted.
When, in 1928, his son Eugene O'Neill, Jr. had to choose a university to attend for four years, it was Yale that he selected rather than Princeton or Harvard. Gene, Jr. subsequently went on to get his Yale Ph.D. in Classics in 1936, and in 1942 was an assistant professor of Greek at Yale.
In March of that year, the parlous state of the world had driven O'Neill, at Tao House, to search out and go over his original longhand scripts and notes with view of possible gifts and safeguarding." The initial distribution of the manuscripts was to be among three principal institutions: the Museum of the City of New York (the early plays, plus Ah, Wilderness!), Princeton (the plays of the middle period), and Yale (the later plays). (A notebook for Mourning Becomes Electra had already gone to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York.)
Between 16 April 1942,
when the scripts of Mourning Becomes Electra went off, and
1950, Yale received the manuscripts of all the later plays,
plus typescripts, proofs, announcements, programs, clippings, and
photographs. Although the initial impulse had been Mr. O'Neill's, it
was Mrs. O'Neill, to whom most of the manuscripts had been given,
In May 1951, Mrs. O'Neill telephoned Jim Babb, the Librarian, to say that she was sending a large box and, two days later, wrote at length to explain the harrowing circumstances under which she was breaking up the Marblehead home. Obviously there was no longer any hope that O'Neill might one day again be able to write, and the material included two notebooks of play ideas, one of them containing leaves that had been excised from a similar notebook sent in 1942. Much of the material was to be placed in the "25-years-after-death" part of the collection: fifteen volumes of her own diaries; and O'Neill's Work Diary--four volumes of five-year diaries, covering the period January 1924 to 4 May 1943. There were also an autograph scenario of "Chris Christophersen" (of which other manuscript material was at Princeton); the autograph manuscript of A Moon for the Misbegotten; a series of typed poems written by O'Neill to Carlotta; and more material relating to Mourning Becomes Electra, including a long series of photographs, with accompanying notes from Dudley Nichols, that amounted to a day-by-day report of progress with the shooting of the film. (Dudley Nichols had given us in 1947 the original drawings by Albert Pyke for the sets for the film, and Mrs. O'Neill later purchased and gave to us a print of the moving-picture.)
In November 1951, another telephone call to Jim Babb from Mrs. O'Neill announced that she was shipping more manuscript material, including some unpublished and some unfinished scripts, which scholars could study and read but not copy. There were notes for some twenty-five plays, planned but unwritten, plus the autograph manuscripts of A Touch of the Poet, and the partially revised More Stately Mansions. An original corrected typescript of Long Day's Journey Into Night was sealed, not to be read until twenty-five years after O'Neill's death. Also included were one hundred twelve letters and one hundred sixty-eight telegrams from O'Neill to Carlotta, dating from 1928 to 1941, with two hundred seventy letters from her to him; and the important, long correspondence between O'Neill and his agent Richard J. Madden from 1929 to 1941, which had been turned over to the O'Neills when Madden retired.
After O'Neill's death in 1953, we received a letter from Mrs. O'Neill's attorneys asking us to continue to restrict all material that we had been holding as not open to readers. Shortly afterward, Pincus Berner of the firm came to the Library to inspect all this "twenty-five-year" material and to satisfy himself that the restrictions were being observed. Since these were a source of confusion and misunderstanding over the years until Mrs. O'Neill's death in 1969, it may be well to speak of them here. As I have said, Mrs. O'Neill had originally followed Mr. O'Neill's lead in allowing most of the material to be read by serious scholars, although notes and unfinished plays were not to be quoted. But she came to feel strongly that, since a great part of the material was written in pencil, it was imperative that this not be "pawed over" and rendered illegible for later generations of students. As for unpublished and unfinished items, she came to feel that O'Neill had written and published a great many plays and that these were quite sufficient for scholars to deal with. The period during which some of this material had been used gave rise to rumors that we were playing favorites, allowing some scholars to see things denied to others. The charge was made in print by Tom Olsson in his book on O'Neill and the Royal Swedish Theatre, but it didn't particularly bother me: we did our best to carry out to the letter Mrs. O'Neill's current instructions as long as she lived.
In the early months of 1954, Mrs. O'Neill sent us fourteen medical journals relating to O'Neill's last illness, sealed, along with some additional typescripts, bits of early O'Neill poems, more O'Neill-Carlotta correspondence, some miscellaneous photographs, and material relating to James O'Neill, Sr. She also sent a handsome leather case containing O'Neill's jewelry, including various rings that she had bought for him, and a platinum watch from Cartier's in Paris. (She was most indignant when I--in my untutored way--referred to the watch as being of stainless steel.) Also in 1954, we received from her O'Neill's correspondence with his lawyer Harry Weinberger, dating from 1923 to 1944, along with fifteen letters from him to Winfield Aronberg, Weinberger's successor. (We purchased some additional O'Neill letters to Aronberg from him in 1967.)
Later that Spring (of 1954), Mrs. O'Neill offered to allow us to select from the O'Neill library, which had been stored in Cambridge since the sale of the Marblehead house, any books that would add to our resources in the Collection of American Literature and in the central library. Thirty-seven large crates arrived in due course. I went over the entire collection with a good deal of care. O'Neill almost never made notes in his books, but he would occasionally jot down references on cards laid in. I removed all such cards, but recorded author and title of the book in which each card had been found, and selected for the Collection some two hundred twenty volumes, including fifty-five of O'Neill's own plays, mostly his personal copies, and many volumes with presentation inscriptions to him from their authors. I made a careful list of these. The Accessions Librarian for the main library selected some six hundred volumes, but no list of them was made. The remaining books, about a thousand volumes, now occupying twenty-five of the original thirty-seven crates, were returned (and are now at C. W. Post College on Long Island)
Letters and telephone calls from Mrs. O'Neill soon became more than the Librarian himself had time to handle and the responsibility for dealing with her gradually devolved upon me. She was then still living at the Hotel Shelton on Bay State Road in Boston, in the same two-room apartment in which her husband had died. In April 1954, she asked us to return the original manuscript and corrected typescript of Long Day's Journey Into Night, which we had been holding, sealed, among the materials restricted for twenty-five years.
In March 1955, Mrs. O'Neill returned the typescript of the play to the Library and asked me to read it. I reported enthusiastically, as did others whom she allowed to read the play at that time. Gradually her conviction strengthened that publication of this masterwork would revive interest in O'Neill the dramatist. She accordingly asked her lawyer, Walter Meserve of Boston, to discuss the matter with Random House, O'Neill's publishers in New York. Meserve's dealings were with Robert Haas. the Vice President, and a legal document was actually drawn up and signed by him voiding the original agreement of 29 April 1945 between O'Neill and the firm under which a typescript of the play had been deposited not to be published until twenty-five years after his death. But when Haas consulted Bennett Cerf, the Random House President, he found that Cerf refused to believe Carlotta's statement that O'Neill had authorized her, if she saw fit, to break the original restriction. Cerf would not allow Random House to publish the play. But Random House's loss was Yale's gain. Mrs. O'Neill promptly assigned publication rights in the play to the Yale Library--as she had every right to do as executrix of the O'Neill estate--and authorized us to make arrangements with the Yale University Press for the publication of the book. Cerf carried his opposition to Carlotta so far that, through Frederick B. Adams, Jr., then a member of the Yale Press's Board of Governors as well as a director of Random House, he tried, in vain, to get the Press to turn down the Library's request that it publish the play.
Long Day's Journey Into Night appeared on 20 February 1956. Although Mrs. O'Neill had reserved for herself the dramatic rights in the play, the royalties from its publication would go to establish a Eugene O'Neill Memorial Fund at Yale, the income to be used for the upkeep of the O'Neill collection in the Library, for the purchase of books in the drama, and for O'Neill scholarships in the Yale Drama School.
At the time of the gift to Yale of publication rights in Long Day's Journey, Mrs. O'Neill had contemplated no stage production of the play. She soon decided, however, to give to the Royal Swedish Theatre in Stockholm permission to produce it without payment of royalty. The world premiere took place, at the time of its book publication, with spectacular success. In May, a revival of The Iceman Cometh, directed by Josť Quintero at the small Circle-in-the-Square Theater in Greenwich Village. with Jason Robards, Jr., in the role of Hickey, met with an excellent critical reception and Mrs. O'Neill decided that Quintero could be trusted to handle Long Day's Journey as O'Neill himself would have wished. The play, directed by Quintero, opened in Boston and, after two weeks of enthusiastic audiences there, came to New Haven for a week. The cast was brought to the Collection of American Literature (then still in the Sterling Memorial Library building) by Louis Sheaffer, publicity manager for the production, who was later to write the authoritative two-volume biography of O'Neill. Fredric March on that occasion asked me about a passage in the play that had mystified the entire cast. In the last-act confrontation between the two Tyrone brothers, words given to James Tyrone, Jr., read in the Yale Press edition: "God bless you, K.O." What did the letters stand for?
I could offer no explanation but agreed to look up the passage in O'Neill's original manuscript. I did this as soon as the cast had left the Library and discovered that the speech as O'Neill had written it read: "... God bless you, Kid. His eyes close. He mumbles. That last drink--the old K.O." In typing the manuscript Mrs. O'Neill, her eye skipping from "Kid." at the beginning of one line to "K.O." at the start of the next, had omitted an entire line and the error had not been caught. I wrote a note to Mr. March telling him what I had found and took it around to the Shubert Theater that same afternoon, with the result that the speech was corrected for that evening's and all subsequent performances. The correction was made by the Press in the second printing of its edition.
Mrs. O'Neill's judgment proved, of course, to be completely justified, and both on the stage and as a book the play has been generally accepted as O'Neill's greatest work. At the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Yale University Press in 1983, John Ryden, its director, announced that Long Day's Journey Into Night was the Press's all-time biggest seller, having sold more than eight hundred thousand paperback and forty-five thousand cloth-bound copies.
Norman Pearson had, over the years, assembled what amounted to a complete collection of Eugene O'Neill's first editions, rounded out with programs, reviews, and books and pamphlets about him. The end of Norman's friendship with Mrs. O'Neill had removed any probability that he would be allowed to write an O'Neill biography while she was alive. and he decided in the Spring of 1957 to give his collection to Yale as a memorial to Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Although there was extensive duplication with books already given by the O'Neills themselves, the Pearson collection was important in filling in many gaps, especially before 1928, and giving us a solid base for O'Neill research. (Norman later gave the duplicates to Princeton.)
I had first visited Mrs. O'Neill at the Hotel Shelton in Boston on 11 June 1954. On that memorable occasion I had taken with me photographic copies of O'Neill's inscriptions to her, written in manuscripts and books in the Yale collection. After my return to New Haven, Mrs. O'Neill had telephoned and written me frequently and had often told me how comforting she had found these photographs, reading the inscriptions over and over, thinking of them as her "litany." Three and a half years later, in January 1958, when O'Neill's second wife Agnes Boulton Kaufman was about to publish her account of her marriage to O'Neill, Part of a Long Story, I happened to say to Mrs. O'Neill that the inscriptions were, in effect, the story of O'Neill's life with her, and she decided that she would allow them to be published. Because the Yale Press felt that the inscriptions were rather too private and personal for commercial publication, it was arranged that the Library would have the book privately printed, but would sell copies for the benefit of the O'Neill collection. The Library would pay for the publication, but Mrs. O'Neill would contribute five thousand dollars (the estimated cost of the book) for "the work of the Yale Library." This more than covered the cost of printing Inscriptions: Eugene O'Neill to Carlotta Monterey O'Neill. The book was completed in May 1960 and Mrs. O'Neill was pleased with it.
In 1958 we had received the major portion of an archive that greatly reinforced the whole theatrical background for the O'Neill collection. That was the enormous mass of papers of the Theatre Guild, the gift of its directors Theresa Helburn, Armina Marshall, and Lawrence Langner. This contained much of the long correspondence between O'Neill and the Guild, the principal producer of his plays since 1928, along with corrected scripts of all the O'Neill plays they had produced, a selection of photographs, and an incomparable series of albums containing reviews, not only of Guild productions on Broadway but of the numerous touring-company productions all over the United States. Although the bulk of the collection came in 1958, the Guild was then still an active organization and further material was added in subsequent years. Armina Marshall gave the manuscript of "Thirst," the second play O'Neill ever wrote, in 1959, while the bulk of the O'Neill correspondence with Lawrence Langner was not actually handed over until 1960, and two inscribed copies of The Iceman Cometh came after Langner's death. Most of the O'Neill letters to Theresa Helburn came also in 1960, as the gift of her heirs.
Robert Sisk had originally been associated with the Guild, but had gone off on his own to a career in Hollywood. In 1958 he gave more than a hundred letters he had received from O'Neill and forty-three from Mrs. O'Neill. In October 1959, we received the plaster original of Edmund Quinn's portrait head of O'Neill, the gift of Quinn's widow, now Mrs. Shepherd Stevens. (A bronze cast of the head was already owned by the Drama School.) Dudley Nichols added his own O'Neill letters in November 1959, asking that they not be made available to "unworthy or sensational or hostile biographers." His eighty-six letters from Mrs. O'Neill came at the same time but were sealed until after his own and her deaths.
Gradually the income from the O'Neill Memorial Fund was becoming substantial enough so that the Library's share could be used to help in making additions to the Collection. Kenneth Macgowan, who had collaborated with O'Neill in the production of some of his early plays and had been one of his oldest friends, of course knew of the manuscript material at Yale. He could not afford to give us his O'Neill letters but, placing them with a California bookseller for sale, he suggested that they be offered first to us. Thanks to the income from the O'Neill Fund and the generosity of other friends of the Yale Library, we were able to acquire this important correspondence, consisting of more than a hundred letters and telegrams, dating from 1921 to 1950, along with some twenty-one from Mrs. O'Neill, and even one from Agnes Boulton. These were acquired in 1962 and were eventually published twenty years later by the Yale Press under the title "The Theatre We Worked For," in an edition prepared by Travis Bogard and Jackson Bryer.
In May 1956, after Long Day's Journey had been published and arrangements had been concluded between the Library and the Press for the subsequent publication of A Touch of the Poet and the one-act play Hughie (the publication rights in those plays also having been given to the Library), Mrs. O'Neill had telephoned me to ask whether we had any other completed, unpublished scripts, and I had reported to her the existence of the typescript of More Stately Mansions. She had been under the impression that it had been destroyed along with the longhand draft, and asked me to return it to her. I delivered it in person in New York on 16 May. After she had reread the play (which she herself had typed from O'Neill's first longhand script), she telephoned me. Her opinion was like O'Neill's (recorded in his Work Diary) that the script was much too complicated, and she doubted that anything could ever be done with it. This was the last I heard from Mrs. O'Neill about the play for almost a year.
In the Spring of 1957, she had telephoned Karl Ragnar Gierow, director of the Swedish Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm and informed him of the existence of More Stately Mansions. He had flown to New York, read the script, discussed it at length with Mrs. O'Neill, and had come up to New Haven to look at the notes for the play's revision that we had received along with the script. Eventually, Mrs. O'Neill had given him permission to attempt to shorten the script for possible production at the Royal Theatre. Mr. Gierow had taken the script with him back to Stockholm and, to our consternation, released to the press a sensational and completely misleading story of his "discovery" of a new full-length play by Eugene O'Neill.
Although Mrs. O'Neill had been shocked at the newspaper report and had suggested that Gierow return the typescript to her, he had apologized to us both for the newspaper release (which had of course accomplished its purpose in drawing attention to the play), and begged to be allowed to see what he could do. On 17 April, Mrs. O'Neill and I sent him a cable, signing it jointly, agreeing that he could proceed but asking that any further publicity be deferred until something definite in the way of an actable script was forthcoming. Gierow had had the typescript photographed and had returned the original to Mrs. O'Neill who, two years later, gave it back to the Library. After five years Gierow was satisfied that he had succeeded in making an actable play. When this shortened version was produced in Stockholm for the first time on 9 November 1962, Gierow could, in the printed program, assure the audience that "There is not a scene, not a passage, not a line in the drama which is presented tonight that is not by O'Neill himself."
Although the play was not an unqualified success in Stockholm, critics generally agreed that it was worthy of consideration as part of the canon. A year or so later Mrs. O'Neill decided that the English text could be made available for students of O'Neill's work. Again she gave the publication rights to the Library, and she and Gierow asked me to be responsible for establishing the equivalent in O'Neill's own words of the Swedish version. I devoted a good many evenings and several weekends to the task, typing the script myself. The play was published by the Yale Press on 13 March 1964, and Mrs. O'Neill inscribed my copy on the 12th of August.
Although the bold signature was as strong and handsome as ever, she had had some difficulty with the inscription, writing "1912" for "1964" in the date. Indeed her health, both mental and physical, had not been good through much of the preceding year. I had been eager that she should set down in some way her memories before it was too late and had persuaded her to talk into a dictaphone some of the details of her first meeting with O'Neill, etc. She actually completed one or two of these recordings, but found the machine difficult to cope with. I suggested that she talk to me and I would make notes of her conversation and she agreed to this arrangement. One of the resulting sessions was on her birthday, 28 December 1963, and concerned largely her own early life. Another, on New Year's Day, 1964, concerned her relationship with O'Neill.
On the very next day, I was astonished to receive a telephone call from Jane Rubin, who had for many years handled the O'Neill plays at Richard Madden, Inc., O'Neill's agents, reporting that Mrs. O'Neill was extremely upset at my "plans to write a book about her and O'Neill." I wrote her at once, explaining that I had no intention whatsoever of publishing anything about her or Mr. O'Neill. She replied, apologizing, and even suggested that we resume my note-taking sessions; but I had learned my lesson and had no desire to risk offending her again.
I continued to go to New York to see her at least once each month, and we had very pleasant lunches in the Carlton House dining room, sometimes, if the occasion was a special one, even at Quo Vadis. But her health was not improving, she was putting on weight, and tended to be more and more easily vexed, sometimes by quite trivial occurrences.
During the following Spring (of 1965), she had an extremely bothersome ear infection and was obviously in a highly nervous state. Her old friend Arthur Neergaard, who had treated her briefly in New York in 1945, was now her principal physician. On 11 May, Jane Rubin reported to me that Dr. Neergaard had found Mrs. O'Neill to be "very disturbed" and insisted that she go into the hospital immediately. One of her lawyers at Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft did get in touch with Cynthia Chapman Stram, her only child, in case it should become necessary to use a commitment procedure, but Mrs. O'Neill was very well aware of her deteriorating physical and mental health and agreed quite readily to go into the nearby Regent Hospital at 115 East 61st Street for treatment. On 17 May, Jane Rubin reported her as being in a talkative mood, asking what had happened (the diagnosis had been "organically induced psychosis") and on 7 June there was marked improvement. I saw her at the Regent on several occasions before I left for the summer in Europe and she seemed gradually to be getting better. She was certainly not incompetent but was also in no condition to be bothered with the handling of her own affairs. On 15 July her lawyers wrote me that Mrs. O'Neill and her daughter Cynthia Stram had both agreed that Jane Rubin, as agent for the O'Neill plays, and I, as a friend and representative of Yale, should be appointed Trustees. The Trust was actually signed and notarized at the Yale Club in New York in September soon after my return from Europe.
Mrs. O'Neill seemed content to remain at the Regent, where she was well cared for, and, thinking that we had best not renew her lease at Carlton House. Jane Rubin and I in November removed most of her books, papers, and furnishings from her apartment. The books and papers went to the Yale Library on deposit; the other things were sent to storage in New York. But in December she began to feel and act much better and insisted on going back to the hotel. Her doctors agreed that she could do this and so she returned to Carlton House.
It was during this period that she yielded to Jose Quintero's entreaties and authorized him to produce More Stately Mansions, first at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and then at the Broadhurst in New York. Chiefly in order to build up the part of Sara and make it more worthy of Colleen Dewhurst, he had added to the Gierow script the original first scene that linked the play with its immediate predecessor in the Cycle, A Touch of the Poet. Since the play could not run past eleven o'clock without overtime rates having to be paid to stagehands, etc., Quintero had been forced to cut the second half of the play ruthlessly, thus sacrificing much of its effectiveness. Although the Broadway run was a respectable one--because of the stellar cast--the play was not accepted as top-drawer O'Neill and has never been widely played. A production in London for which I had great hopes was planned for 1974. This was to star the Austrian actress Elisabeth Bergner as Deborah, a role in which she had already triumphed in Berlin. Unfortunately, differences between star and director were not resolved and the production never reached London. In 1981, Esther Jackson and John Ezell devoted loving attention to the script at the University of Wisconsin, but they failed to receive the grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities which would have secured for their production the wider audience that it richly deserved.
Another gift that
supplemented the O'Neill collection was the Elizabeth Shepley
Sergeant papers received by her bequest in 1966. Miss Sergeant had
interviewed O'Neill in 1926 and had used the interview as the basis
of an essay published in her Fire under
the Andes (1927). O'Neill had been favorably impressed and
granted her a series of three interviews
in New York in 1946 at the time of the production of The Iceman
In 1967, at the suggestion of Louis Sheaffer, Mrs. O'Neill's daughter, Cynthia Stram, asked us to purchase the twenty-three letters she had from her step-father, along with some forty from her mother. No announcement was to be made of the acquisition and indeed the letters were to be sealed until after her mother's death. The O'Neill Fund enabled us to acquire the letters, which provide additional documentation on the relationship between O'Neill and his children.
In this same year (1967) we finally succeeded in closing negotiations for the acquisition of another important collection supplying dramatic background for the O'Neill papers. This was the archive and a substantial part of the library of Barrett H. Clark, who had been literary editor at the Samuel French Company and had written one of the first books about O'Neill. Negotiations with Clark's widow had begun seven years earlier, through Croswell Bowen, a Yale alumnus, who had written, with the nominal assistance of Shane O'Neill, The Curse of the Misbegotten. The Clark papers and books had been deposited at Yale in December 1960, and I had devoted most of my Christmas vacation to making a detailed listing of the material. From that listing an appraisal had been made by a New York bookseller. But it was difficult to come to an agreement as to the purchase price, and two other libraries eventually became involved. Fortunately, Mrs. Clark was disposed in our favor, primarily because of the presence at Yale of the O'Neill and Theatre Guild archives, and we were finally allowed to purchase the collection in 1967. Not only were there fifty-five letters from O'Neill and twenty-four from Mrs. O'Neill to Clark, but also the proofs of Clark's Eugene O'Neill, with O'Neill's numerous manuscript corrections, along with typescripts (made at the time of the Provincetown Playhouse production) of his adaptation of Coleridge's The Ancient Mariner. And the other letters and manuscript materials, notably of Paul Green and Lynn Riggs, were of first importance.
Mrs. O'Neill's health began to deteriorate again in 1968. On 11 September, it was necessary for her to go back into the Regent Hospital. In mid-November, she grew rapidly worse, struck one of her nurses, and had to be transferred to the violent section of St. Luke's Hospital. There, with treatment, she soon began to improve, and was moved in January 1969 to the non-violent part of the hospital. On 24 March she was transferred to the DeWitt Nursing Home in Manhattan and, with the coming of summer, to the Valley Nursing Home in Westwood, New Jersey. When I saw her there for the last time on 11 November, she recognized me and spoke some sentences, but her attention seemed to drift away and I couldn't be sure that she always fully understood what I was saying. The doctor had reported that her physical health was good.
Exactly one week after my last visit the special nurse outside Mrs. O'Neill's room at 5:30 in the morning noticed that she was breathing heavily. She soon lapsed into a coma and died from a massive heart attack. It was ironic that, when her lawyer's telephone call to me came through, I was not in New Haven but in New York, accepting delivery from Agnes Boulton Kaufman's executors of O'Neill material that we had purchased.
This Boulton material had been offered in the course of the settlement of her estate and represented the residue of the O'Neill items that had remained in her possession at the house in Bermuda when O'Neill left his family for Carlotta. In the divorce settlement, Agnes agreed to hand over all such material, but she had obviously not done so. Over the last years of her life she had sold, chiefly through the Seven Gables Bookshop in New York, a number of manuscript items and books. We had already acquired a few important manuscripts from this source. One of the most notable was the annotated copy of Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner which constituted the original manuscript of O'Neill's adaptation of that poem for the Provincetown Players (and was the source of the text printed in the Library Gazette in October 1960). There was also a series of manuscript and typescript drafts of early poems.
The most important item in the material offered by the executors in 1969 was O'Neill's "Scribbling Diary for the Year 1925," which has since been published by the Library as part of the Work Diary. But there was also an extensive group of some two hundred seventy letters and telegrams to O'Neill dating from 1917 to 1927, from various correspondents, including John Peale Bishop, Barrett Clark, Hart Crane, Charles Demuth, Theodore Dreiser, St. John Ervine, and Waldo Frank. There was also a four-page letter of 1920 to O'Neill from his mother, and another four-page letter, undated, from his brother James. With the aid of the O'Neill Fund we were able to acquire this material. (Since most of the incoming O'Neill correspondence after 1927 was apparently destroyed, these early letters take on a special significance.) Subsequently, Barbara Burton, Agnes Boulton's daughter by her first marriage, found among her mother's books some forty-three volumes that had belonged to O'Neill, and we acquired those in May 1971.
In her will Mrs. O'Neill bequeathed to Yale "such books, papers, and other items relating to ... my husband, Eugene O'Neill, as may be selected by Donald C. Gallup...." I met with her executors in the warehouse atmosphere of Parke Bernet 84 and together we went over the contents of a great many boxes. There were books, photographs, and a few art objects, but most of the important material Mrs. O'Neill had been foresighted enough to hand over to us before she became ill. Her own correspondence relating to O'Neill in the years after his death had been on deposit at Yale since 1965.
Her will had been drawn up in 1964 by the New York law firm that she employed. The O'Neill copyrights were placed in an O'Neill Trust, with two of the firm's senior partners as trustees and with Yale University as the residuary beneficiary. Unfortunately, the tax law had been changed radically by Congress in 1969 and such private trusts had become taxable. After a single year it became apparent that only the Government would profit from the continued existence of the Trust, and it was dissolved. All the O'Neill properties were turned over to Yale, establishing a second O'Neill Fund, this one in memory of both O'Neills, with its income to be used in the same manner as the original fund. At the time of my retirement in 1980 this fund amounted to well over a million dollars.
After this final gift from Carlotta Monterey O'Neill, we received in the last decade of my curatorship additions from other sources of important O'Neill material. Some were gifts--like the group of ten letters of 1905 to Marion Welch, commemorating one of O'Neill's first romantic interests, and the letters to Russel Crouse. Others were bequests--like the letters to Norman Pearson, who died in 1975. Some were purchases, but most of those--like the letters to Eugene O'Neill, Jr., and to his mother Kathleen Pitt-Smith, and the batch of material we acquired from the estate of the O'Neills' housekeeper at Marblehead--were made possible by the income from the Carlotta Monterey and Eugene O'Neill Memorial Fund, created by Mrs. O'Neill's bequest.
It seems appropriate to end with this emphasis on Mrs. O'Neill, for my account has made clear to what a great extent she was the prime-mover behind the Eugene O'Neill collection at Yale. Indeed, she shall have the last word. In April 1954, when we were returning the manuscript and corrected typescript of Long Day's Journey to Mrs. O'Neill, Jim Babb, joking characteristically, asked me to tell her "to be careful of those manuscripts!" Of course I did as I was told and received this reply: "You give him my message: 'If it hadn't been for Carlotta there would not have been any O'Neill manuscripts in Yale!'"
* A paper read, in a slightly abbreviated version, at a meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association in Hartford, Ct., on 29 March 1985.
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