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A Collection of Autograph and Typed Letters, Signed

O'Neill, Eugene (and Carlotta)

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Clarel Rare Books
Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.

4-star rating

AbeBooks Seller Since November 27, 2002

About this Item

An important archive of unpublished letters from Eugene O'Neill [and his wife Carlotta] to O'Neill's friend and agent, Richard J. Madden [and his wife, Broadway diva Tessa Kosta]. The group is made up of 3 ALSs from O'Neill to Madden, 1 TLS from O'Neill to "Dick and Tessa", 1 ALS from Carlotta to "Tessa and Richard", and 1 ANS from Carlotta to Tessa. Six items in all, ranging in date from June, 1929 to April, 1952. The centerpiece of the collection is a long 4 pp. ALS, of over 1300 words, from O'Neill to Madden dated August 3rd, 1929 on Le Plessis stationery, with superb content. O'Neill discusses the revision of his latest play, the disappointing "Dynamo", and touches upon a number of Hollywood "talky deals" in the works. He mentions [Paul] Robeson in connection with "The Emperor Jones" [Robeson starred in the movie version of 1933], director Ernst Lubitsch's interest in "Desire Under The Elms," and seems to call Lillian Gish a "damned.bitch" for backing out of a deal upon the advice of her lawyers. Most importantly, O'Neill alludes, with an excitement that borders on euphoria, to a new play in progress, "bigger in scope and giving me more chance to do my stuff. A thousand times more! It is the biggest thing I've ever attempted!" His premonition was not unfounded as the new work was almost assuredly his first masterpiece; "Mourning Becomes Electra." The rest of the collection is as follows: 2) ALS, 1 pp. on Le Plessis stationery, dated July 26, 1929, From O'Neill to Madden, thanking him for his good wishes (apparently sent in response to O'Neill and Carlotta's impromptu marriage). 3) ALS, 1 pp. dated Le Plessis, June 5th, 1930, From O'Neill to Madden, discussing business affairs, and giving directions for an impending visit. 4) TLS, 1 pp. dated February 3rd, 1948, New York, on Doctors Hospital stationery, from O'Neill to Madden and Tessa, thanking them for a gift of flowers, and reporting on his condition. 5) ALS, 2 pp. dated September 30th, 1950, from Carlotta to Tessa and Richard, reporting on O'Neill's condition and thanking them for their tactful replies to a reporter regarding O'Neill. 6) ANS, 2 pp. dated April 11, 1952, Marblehead Neck, Massachussetts, on Carlotta's personalized, note card, from Carlotta to Tessa, consoling Tessa on Madden's death after a long illness, and drawing a parallel to her own situation with O'Neill. "A very sad thing to watch a disease take hold & insidiously destroy what once was Gene!" Eugene O'Neill is America's preeminent playwright, and its most honored, having been awarded the Pulitzer Prize four times and the Nobel Prize once. This important archive, besides illuminating aspects of O'Neill's life and work, poignantly traces the arc of these two interconnected couples' lives. It blends the personal and the professional, with subjects ranging from Broadway to Hollywood, from love and marriage to illness and death. Perhaps because they are so actively sought by institutions, O'Neill's letters never seem to stay on the market very long. As such, this is a rare chance to greatly enhance a collection, or to jump start one from scratch. With the exception of a couple extremely minor creases and nicks in the letter of June 5th, 1930, all the material is in fine condition. Bookseller Inventory # 000061

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Title: A Collection of Autograph and Typed Letters,...

Book Type: Book

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All items are guaranteed to be as described and returnable for any reason within seven days of receipt, as long as they are returned in the same condition they were sent. The title of all items remains with me until the sale is finalized. All books are offered subject to prior sale. Please make checks or money orders payable to Michael Kidder, 1706 Burnell Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90065.


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