New Scholarship: Tennessee Williams, Sean O’Casey letters resurface in Eugene O’Neill Collections

April 21, 2021

By Melissa Barton

Eugene ONeill outdoors leaning against a deck railing
A researcher working in collections relating to Eugene O’Neill has uncovered previously unknown letters from O’Neill’s fellow playrights Tennessee Williams and Sean O’Casey. 
Herman Farrell found the letter from Williams, which contains the playwright’s response to O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, in the “W” general letter file in the Eugene O’Neill Papers Addition. The letter provides further insight into the relationship between the two men, as well as into Williams’s appreciation of O’Neill’s work. It is reproduced in full, with contextualization by Farrell, in an article in The Eugene O’Neill Review; Penn State University Press will be allowing open access to the article via JSTOR through June 2021. See: Herman Daniel Farrell III, “The Iceman Cometh: ‘An unique dramatic achievement’ (Tennessee Williams letter to Eugene O’Neill, November 6, 1946),” Eugene O’Neill Review 42, no. 1 (2021), pp. 1–16.
Farrell previously found a letter from Irish playright Sean O’Casey to O’Neill, congratulating O’Neill on his 1936 Nobel Prize, misfiled in an unrelated folder (an error that likely took place before the papers came to Yale) in the Eugene O’Neill Papers Addition. Farrell published an account of this letter, also in the O’Neill Review; see Herman Daniel Farrell III, “New Discoveries: The Marriage Certificate of Eugene O’Neill and Carlotta Monterey (July 22, 1929/Sean O’Casey, Letter to Eugene O’Neill [November 25, 1936],” Eugene O’Neill Review 40, no. 2 (2019) pp. 154-184.
Both letters will be filed within the O’Neill collections under their respective authors’ names, so that they can be more easily found by researchers.