Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities


Posted in Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature by beineckepoetry on October 12, 2011

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University has acquired Eugene O’Neill’s “lost” one-act play, “Exorcism” (1919).  The play, along with a facsimile of the typescript, will be published in a cloth edition by Yale University Press in February 2012, featuring an introduction by the noted American playwright Edward Albee.  The New Yorker has acquired first serial rights and will publish the play in its entirety, with an introduction by theater critic John Lahr, in the magazine’s Fall Books issue, October 17, 2011 (on newsstands October 10). A short video of the actor Tommy Schrider reading from “Exorcism” will be featured onThe New Yorker’s website and iPad application: .

“Exorcism,” set in 1912, is based on O’Neill’s suicide attempt from an overdose of veronal in a squalid, Manhattan rooming house. The play premiered at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York City on March 26, 1920. Following a few performances, however, O’Neill chose, abruptly, to cancel the production and to retract and destroy all known copies of the script. O’Neill biographers have speculated that the play, produced as O’Neill’s father was dying, was perhaps too revealing of O’Neill’s own demons and potentially distressing for his parents.

Despite long-held presumptions that the play was irrevocably lost, O’Neill’s second wife, Agnes Boulton, apparently retained a copy of the play, which she gave as a Christmas gift to the writer Philip Yordan after her divorce from O’Neill. Yordan is perhaps best known for his O’Neill-inspired play, and later film, Anna Lucasta, starring an all-black cast. The typescript, with edits and emendations in O’Neill’s own hand, was discovered by a researcher working in Yordan’s papers, together with the original envelope; the label is inscribed, “Something you said you’d like to have / Agnes & Mac” (Morris “Mac” Kaufman was Boulton’s third husband).

O’Neill, a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner and the only American playwright to receive the Nobel Prize for literature (1936), returned to many of the issues that surface in “Exorcism” in his heavily autobiographical play Long Day’s Journey into Night, published posthumously in 1956 and considered to be his masterpiece. The discovery of “Exorcism,” after ninety years, adds significantly to O’Neill’s biography, intimating the overwhelming role that suicide would take in his personal life along with the issue’s influence and impact on his work. The play also marks a pivotal moment in O’Neill’s prolific career, providing further insight into the later works for which he is now revered.

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is the principal repository for the Eugene O’Neill Papers. A detailed description of the papers is available online:Eugene O’Neill Papers Finding Aid (YCAL MSS 123). Some materials from the collection can be viewed online: Eugene O’Neill Papers Image Guide. Related materials and collections may be located using the Beiencke Library’s various research tools: Guide to Research Tools.

For inquiries about the play, or the Eugene O’Neill Papers, please contact Louise Bernard (<>), Curator of the Yale Collection of American Literature for Prose and Drama, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

For inquiries about the play’s publication in book form this February, please contact Brenda King (<>), Publicity Director, Yale University Press.

Image: Photograph of Eugene O’Neill, inscribed to his son [1927].

Fröbelgabe (or kindergarten pixelation)

Posted in Beinecke Library, Shirley Collection by beineckepoetry on October 21, 2010

A beautiful example of a kindergarten exercise – specifically the 14th of Friedrich Fröbel’s “gifts”
intended to allow young children free range of play and expression.
This 26-panel paper weaving book shows a variety of patterns,
including one page with the makers initials and the date of creation.

This example is apparently American, from 1892, made by “M. Kistler”

Divine Comedy

Posted in Beinecke Library, James Weldon Johnson Collection by beineckepoetry on August 12, 2010

A photograph of the first production of Owen Dodson’s Divine Comedy, based on the life of the religious leader Father Divine, at the Yale University Theatre, February, 1938.

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Qui est Henri Roorda?

Posted in Beinecke Library, Modern General Collection by beineckepoetry on June 1, 2009

Well, according to our research, Henri Roorda van Eysinga (1870-1925, who often wrote under the pseudonym Balthazar) was a Swiss educator, humorist, anarchist, and pacifist who wrote everything from math textbooks to plays to essays. Hardly known in the US, he is feted in an exhibition at the Musee Historique de Lausanne.

Beinecke Library has added a small group of books and a typescript of a play “The League against Stupidity”

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Past Times

Posted in Beinecke Library, Modern General Collection by beineckepoetry on May 18, 2009

Les Jeux des jeunes garçons représentés en 25 gravures à l’aqua-tints

d’après les dessins de Xavier Le Prince ; avec l’explication détaillée des règles de chaque jeu ; accompagnées de fables nouvelles par MM. Armand-Gouffé, Le Franc, etc. et suivis d’anecdotes relatives à chaque jeu.

(A Paris : Chez P.C. Lehuby, [n.d., after 1822?])

Noted as “sixieme edition” in the preface.

Scenes of juvenile ludic life in France in the early part of the 19th century.


Posted in Beinecke Library, Shirley Collection by beineckepoetry on February 1, 2008

and girls’ stunts.

From the diaries of Margaret Mellor.