Special Collections. C.W. Post Campus / Long Island University, Brookville, New York 11548

The Eugene and Carlotta O'Neill Library

History of the Collection:

Eugene O'Neill's personal library was partially bequeathed to the Yale University Library. This included the manuscripts of the plays and those certain books that were not already at Yale. When Yale's scrutiny of the O'Neill Library was completed, about 1,000 books remained. Most of the titles Yale kept were simply incorporated into the University's general book collection, though a few were salvaged for the Beinecke Rare Book Library.1 Acting according to the stipulation of O'Neill's will, Yale University Library sent the 1,000 remaining items to Mr. John H. G. Pell, a close friend and the financial manager of the O'Neill family, as well as the executor for this transaction. Mr. Pell reports that when the O'Neill's wondered what to do with these remaining books, he suggested several universities as recipients, "but none seemed to interest them, and they finally decided to give the library to me."2

Pell inherited the collection after O'Neill's death in 1953. He then boxed the books and stored them at the New York Historical site at Fort Ticonderoga, of which he was then the president.3 In 1963, when he was then Chancellor of Long Island University, Mr. Pell donated the O'Neill Library "to the library of C. W. Post College where I believed that it would be cherished and appreciated and made available to serious scholars."4

The Library, arranged by the C. W. Post Library's Cataloguing Department in Library of Congress subject classification order, reflects the depth and variety of the O'Neill's reading. The researcher will note such books on religion as Buddha and Gospel of Buddhism and the Basic Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas; several titles by Carl Jung; many histories and biographies such as A History of the Ancient World, Strachey's Elizabeth and Essex, Ludwig's Napoleon, and Albert Jay Nock's Jefferson; and a generous and multifarious display of literature with titles by Dostoevesky, Hugo, Gide, Shakespeare, Wilde, Conrad, Emerson and Ibsen among many, many others. There is also a great interest in a miscellany of subjects with titles as The Clipper Ship Era, Social History of the American Family, Beethoven the Creator, Great Georgian Houses of America, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, and Chinese Gardens.

Many of these items are numbered limited editions and many are inscribed by O'Neill or as gift books to him or to Carlotta by famous authors or by family. For example, the English writer W. Somerset Maugham presents his book The Summing Up "for Carlotta from her friend...", and the Chinese writer Lin Yutang sending his book The Importance of Living to "Mr. and Mrs. Eugene O'Neill, compliments and warmest regards...". There are also such touching inscriptions as this in The Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth: "Love to Daddy from Oona, Xmas, 1931."

  1. Alexander, Doris. "Eugene O'Neill's Private Library." PLA Report. vol. 1, number 1. Spring, 1973: 4.

  2. Pell, John H. G. "O'Neill Remembered". PLA Report. vol. 1, number 1. Spring, 1973: 2.

  3. "Knowing a man by the books he keeps". The Long Island University Magazine. vol. 1, number 3. Spring, 1967: 14.

  4. Pell, John H. G. "O'Neill Remembered". PLA Report. vol. 1, number 1. Spring, 1973: 2.

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