FIRST EDITION OF EUGENE O’NEILL’S FIRST BOOK, THIRST, SIGNED AND DATED BY HIM
O'NEILL, Eugene. Thirst and Other OneAct Plays. Boston: Gorham, Toronto: Copp Clark, 1914. Small octavo (5 by 7-1/2 inches), half beige cloth, dark gray paper boards, original ivory printed paper labels to spine and front board.
First edition, first issue, of the first book by O’Neill, who “was sentimentally fond of the volume” (New York Times), inscribed by him, “Eugene O’Neill, Jan. 1946,” containing the title play, The Web, Warnings, Fog, and Recklessness.
With O’Neill’s decision to become a playwright, “American drama during the first half of the 20th century was totally changed.” Thirst and Other One-Act Plays is especially “important as indicating his future development” (Bloom, Eugene O’Neill, 85). The Provincetown Players first produced the title play, Thirst, in August 1916 with O’Neill playing the West Indian Mulatto Sailor. “The collection, O’Neill’s first, also included The Web, Warnings, Fog, and Recklessness. All three of O‘Neill’s first sea plays, starting with Thirst and then Warnings and Fog, take place during or just after a shipwreck,” possibly in light of the 1912 sinking of the Titanic. Publication of the book was “underwritten with $450 from O’Neill’s father, the popular actor James O’Neill (Dowling, Critical Companion, 456). “O’Neill was sentimentally fond of the volume, but would not allow it to be reissued… He received the Pulitzer Prize on three occasions and was the second citizen of this country to win the Nobel Prize for Literature… During the final decade of his life, O’Neill suffered from a crippling nervous disorder that forced him to give up writing,” as is seen in his inscription herein, dated seven years before his death (New York Times). First edition, first issue, consisting of 1000 copies; “only one edition was printed and the type subsequently distributed” (Sanborn & Clark 4). Without rarely found dust jacket. Atkinson AI-I-I. Bruccoli & Clark, 291. Bookseller ticket.
A fine copy.