John Millington Synge (1871-1909)


Life
[Edmund John Millington Synge; JMS] b. 16 April, Newtown Little [i.e., No. 2, Newtown Villas - one of two houses], Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin; family fortune derived from John Hatch, son of Sir Wm. Temple’s agent who massed estates in Wicklow, Meath and Dublin; owned town-house on Harcourt St. (later the High School); Glanmore Castle, a 4,000-acre estate in Co. Wicklow incorporating Roundwood Park, was built by John Hatch’s son-in-law Francis Synge, whose son John Hatch Synge (d.1845 - JMS’s grandfather) was known as “Pestalozzi John” after the Italian educationalist whose method he followed in the estate school, incorporating its own printing-press for pedagogical materials; the family estate in Wicklow was lost by his son (also John), under the terms of the Encumbered Estates Act of 1848 but partially repurchasing at auction in 1850, Francis Synge, his brother, and hence re-established Glanmore Castle as the family seat - both brothers being members of the Plymouth Brethern; JMS’s maternal gf. was Rev. Robert Traill (d. of fever, 1847), anti-Papist Rector of Schull and principal of the Schull Relief Committee and translator of Josephus’s The Jewish Wars - publ. posthum.); Traill’s widow was dg. of Drumboe Castle, Co. Donegal, and later lived with her family at Orwell Park, Dublin; his dg. Kathleen Traill m. John Hatch Synge, 1856 (3rd son of “Pestalozzi John” and father of JMS), living at first on Hatch St., and later at Newtown Villas, Rathfarnham [a terrace of 2 houses];
 
JMS’s father, a lawyer, died of smallpox in 1872; his mother Kathleen, receiving an income of £400 from a Galway property, bolstered by annuities for her children from an uncle, moved from Hatch St. to 4 Orwell Park, Rathgar, to be next door to her mother Mrs. Traill whose house was afterwards occupied by his sister Annie and her family - maintaining the practice of living together as an extended family of evangelical religious temper under the tutelage of Kathleen; one br. of JMS, Robert Synge, settled in Argentina as engineer; another, Rev. Samuel Synge, settled in China as missionary (and wrote a Letters to his Daughter, in which he spoke of JMS’s religious doubts and lack of paternal direction); a third, Edward Synge, became land agent to the Synge estates and later to Lord Gormanstown, and was involved in evictions in Galway and Wicklow, causing JMS to reproach his mother - to which she replied, ‘What would become of us if our tenants in Galway stopped paying their rents?’; his sister Annie also married a solicitor; an aunt Jane dandled Parnell on her knee and later lamented his politics; family removed to two adjoining houses on Crosswaithe Tce., where Mrs. Synge continued to instruct her children and grandchildren (‘John - poor boy ... He had not found the Saviour yet’); JMS ed. privately, at Mr. Harick’s Classical and English School, Upr. Leeson St., and later briefly at Aravon School, Bray;
 
visits Isle of Man with his mother at eleven; shares childhood interest in ornithology with his cousin Florence Ross; reads and annotates Charles Waterson’s Wanderings in South America; reads Darwin and espouses atheism (‘By the time I was sixteen or seventeen I had renounced Christianity after a good deal of wobbling’); studies the violin with Patrick Griffin for two years; becomes an RIAM student, playing piano, flute, violin and winning awards for counterpoint and harmony; enters TCD, 1889 and studies Irish with Rev. James Goodman (1828-96; ‘an amiable old clergyman who made him read a crabbed version of the New Testament …’); studies Hebrew in his final year; reads George Petrie on Irish antiquities and the Aran Islands; joins Academy orchestra, 1891; grad. TCD BA (Pass), 1892; writes diary-entries in Irish, presum. for privacy from 1893;campaigns against Home Rule in the belief that it would provoke sectarian conflict, 1893; the Synges summered in Delgany and later in Duff House, a rented home at Lough Dan; publishes a Wordsworthian poem in Kottabos, 1893; decides to become a professional musician; travels to Germany with a cousin of his mother, Mary Synge, to study music, staying at Coblenz [Koblenz] with the van Eicken sisters (among whom Valeska), 1893; moves to Wurzburg, Jan. 1894, and studies piano and violin there, composing privately; returns to Ireland, June 1894; moves to Paris, 1 Jan. 1895; joins debating society; studies literature and languages at Sorbonne, reading widely; summers in Ireland but returns to Paris, beginning of 1896; visits Dublin in summers, meeting Cherrie Matheson, dg. of a leading a Plymouth Brethren; proposes to her in 1895 and 1896 - on the latter occasion in a letter written after three months in Rome; returns to Ireland and resumes seeing Cherrie;
 
forms friendship with Stephen MacKenna; meets W. B. Yeats in Paris, Dec. 1896 (‘Fait la connaissance de W.B. Yeates’ [sic], Diary, 21 Dec. 1896), and is encouraged by him to go to the Aran Islands [Yeats, Pref., Well of the Saints]; writes an autobiographical account of his youth in a notebook, Paris 1890s; later rewritten as the narrative of “Dora Comyn”; reads Pierre Loti (e.g., Pêcheur d’Islande/Iceland Fisherman, 1886, set among Breton fishermen); attends lecture by Anatole le Braz on Brittany, April 1897 and read his La Légend de la Morte en Basse Bretagne (1893) and Au Pays des Pardons (1894); attends lectures by Henri d’Arbois de Jubainville at the Sorbonne and writes criticism for various journals; finds Maud Gonne’s Paris group - Irlande Libre, with a newspaper of the same name - mendacious and gives up attending; suffers his first attack of Hodgkins’ disease, summer 1897, and underwent an operation to remove the glands in his neck, Dec. 1897; writes Vita Vecchia (1897-99), fourteen poems connected by prose narrative, after Petrarch, and Étude Morbide (1899), an ‘imaginary portrait’, later rejected as unduly influences by literary decadence; undergoes removal of enlarged gland in neck, 1897, resulting in “Under Ether” (essay); When the Moon has Set, 1900 [var. 1901], all unpublished prior to [production]; travels to Galway for Inismore, 9 May 1898, following a dressing-down for pressing his marriage proposal with Cherrie in view of his lack of means - apparently with her daughter’s assent; first invited to visit Coole, meeting Lady Gregory, Yeats, and Edward Martyn, summer 1898; spends late summers of 1899-1902 on Aran Islands (where an uncle, Alexander Synge, had prev. visited as a proselytiser - unfortunately banning Sunday games;
 
JMS stops first at Aranmore but soon decides to move ‘move on to Inishmaan, where Gaelic is more generally used and the life is ‘perhaps the most primitive that is left in Europe’ (CW, Prose II, p.53); continues living chiefly in Paris, visiting Brittany and Ireland annually in other seasons - viz., returned to the islands in Sept. and travelled to Paris in Nov. 1989; his earliest account of Aran appears in New Ireland Review (“A Story from Inishmaan”, Nov. 1898); prob. first encounters Lady Gregory at Lit. Theatre productions, May 1899 and briefly afterwards in Paris, May 1900; returned to Ireland in May 1900 to summer with his family over three months;returned to Aran in Sept. 1900; encountered Cherrie with her fiancé on a Dublin street; purchased Blickensderfer typewriter on advice from Richard Best, autumn 1900; publishes The Aran Islands (completed 1901; publ. Maunsel 1907), ‘[my] first serious piece of work’, ill. Jack B. Yeats, arising out of collaboration on articles on Congested Districts for Manchester Guardian, placed by its editor John Masefield, 1905; makes a week-long visit [the second] to Coole Park, Sept. 1901 and presents Yeats and Lady Gregory with a draft of The Aran Islands, shortly receiving enthusiastic response from the latter; writes review of Lady Gregory’s Cuchulain of Muirthemne, praising its dialiect as ‘wonderfully simply and powerful ... almost Elizabethan’ with a ‘force of language’ that makes it the only form of English that is quite suitable for incidents of the epic kind’; writes two-act plays Riders to the Sea and In the Shadow of the Glen [earliest title - later The Shadow of the Glen; first drafted as In the Glen], Summer 1902 - set in Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow, nr. Synge family summer residence at Tomriland, Co. Wicklow, and based on a story narrated to Synge by Pat Dirane;
 
makes rough-drafts The Tinker’s Wedding, 1902; not played till 1909 (in London) and 1971 (in Dublin) due to risk of offence to Catholic audiences; JMS’s third sojourn at Coole Park, Oct. 1902; quits Paris flat, March 1903, moving to London; his one-act play In the Shadow of the Glen is performed (under that title) by Irish National Theatre at Molesworth Hall, 10 October 1903, with W. G. Fay in the lead; based on a story of an unfaithful wife told him by Pat Dirane and narrated in The Aran Islands, it was attacked by Arthur Griffith and others in nationalist press as a slur on Irish womanhood and ‘a vile and inhuman story told in the foulest language we have ever listened to ...’ (Griffith, United Irishman); Riders to the Sea premiered in Feb. 1904, likewise attacked by Patrick Pearse (‘a sinister and unholy gospel …’) and others; JMS produced fragment of play on Rebellion of 1798 at behest of Frank Fay, March 1904; living at family home, 31, Crostwaithe Tce., Glasthule [Kingstown/Dunleary] but moved to 15 Maxwell Rd., Rathmines, some time before Oct. 1904; appt. literary adviser to Abbey Theatre at its foundation, Dec. 1904; later appt. director with Yeats and Lady Gregory in the limited liability company, Sept. 1905; his play The Well of the Saints (Abbey 1905), also attacked by nationalists, but produced by Max Meyerfeld at Berlin Deutsches Theater, Jan. 1906; the play included a walk-on part for Molly Allgood [aka Máire O’Neill, q.v.]; JMS spends summer of 1905 in Ballyferriter perfecting his Irish (resulting in In West Kerry, 1907); moved back into Croswaithe Tce., Nov. 1906; told is mother of his feelings for Molly Allgood, Dec. 1905; writes The Playboy of the Western World based on the story of a man who killed his father with a loy [turf-cutting implement] which Synge purported to have heard from Pat Dirane on Aran;
 

The Playboy first produced Abbey Th., 26 Jan. 1907 (with Riders to the Sea as curtain-raiser), amid riots triggered by the phrase ‘chosen females in their shifts alone’ - which Fay aggravated by misquoting as ‘Mayo girls’ - counted the chief outrage by the Freeman’s Journal (i.e., the word shift) and thus conveyed in telegram from Lady Gregory to Yeats, then in Aberdeen; riots exacerbated by Robert Gregory’s band of Trinity students who sing   “God Save the King”; theatre seats torn up; Yeats returns from Aberdeen to address the audience as ‘The author of Cathleen Ni Houlihan’ and calls the DMP [police] into the theatre to keep the peace; Synge harried into an interview with Evening Mail, which he afterwards regrets; writes cautious letter to The Irish Times (“There are, it may be hinted, several sides to The Playboy”); The Playboy published with preface acknowledging debt to ‘the folk imagination’ (1907); moved to flat on York Rd., Rathmines (13s. 6d. p.w.); underwent further operation of Hodgkins, as did his mother; returned to Croswaithe Tce; travelled to London, and to Coblenz [Koblenz], writing to Molly as ‘your old tramp’ while working on his play Deirdre of the Sorrows, written for her; suffered death of his mother; returned to Ireland and settled in her house, 7 Nov. 1908; enters Elpis Nursing Home, Dublin, Feb. 1909; visited daily by Molly, with whom he became engaged; read the Bible in a brown-paper wrapping during his last days (acc. Edward Stephens); d. at Elpis of Hodgkins disease, 24 March, in a bed with a view of the mountains, 24 March 1909; bur. Mount Jerome, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin, in a family grave with Jane Synge (d.1899), 2nd dg. of John Synge of Glanmore, Co. Wicklow, and Mary Synge with her husband Samuel Synge (resp. 1864-1939 and 1867-1951); the Synge family refused to permit Molly to attend his funeral; Deirdre, left uncompleted, was performed at the Abbey in a version prepared by Yeats and Molly Allgood, for whom it was written, Jan. 1910 (being ‘Synge’s reverie over death, his own death’, acc. Yeats in in Autobiographies);

 
for W. B. Yeats, in his Nobel Award for Literature acceptance speech, Synge was ‘incapable of a political thought or of a humanitarian purpose’, meaning that he was pure imagination (Autobiographies; p.567); Vaughan Williams wrote an operatic version of Riders to the Sea in 1927 (premiered in Dec. 1937 at the Royal College of Music, London); the Collected Works were edited by Alan Price, Ann Saddlemyer, et al. (OUP 1962-68); JMS’s letters to Molly published in the centenary year when the catalogue of the Synge MSS in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin was also issued by Dolmen Press (1971); there is a portrait of Synge by J. B. Yeats in the Municipal Gallery, Dublin, and a plaque to him at Croswaithe Tce., Dun Laoghaire; his papers are held in the National Library of Ireland; in 1979, the Abbey Theatre presented Pope John-Paul II with a rare edition of The Playboy during his visit to Ireland; an annual Synge Summer School was opened by Cyril Cusack at Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow in 1991 and directed for many years thereafter by Nicholas Grene (TCD) at “Avondale”, the home of Charles Stewart Parnell; the session in 2000 was opened by Seamus Heaney; Druid Th. Company produced the six major plays as DruidSygne, premiered at Galway Theatre Festival (July 2005). PI NCBE DIB DIW DIH DIL OCEL KUN FDA G20 OCIL
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Authorised biography: The authorised biography, J. M. Synge, 1871-1909 (Macmillan 1959) was published by David Greene (NYU) using papers held and accumulated by Edward Stephens, the nephew of the writer, who received them in 1939 and died in 1955. Among these were manuscript versions of plays, completed and uncompleted, correspondence, diaries and 40 pocket-size notebooks filled by Synge. In 1953 Edward Synge asked Professor Greene to collaborate with him in editing 750,000-word typescript that the former had prepared and show to publishers and which reflects the fact that - as Greene puts it - ‘he felt too keenly his obligations as a member of one of Ireland’s historic families’ so that ’in places at least, the story of J. M. Synge tended to be obscured by that of the Synge family.’ When Edward Synge died of a heart attack in March 1955, his widow Lilo [pronounced with a short ‘i’] asked his to write the biography on condition that it appear as joint-authored with her husband. Greene acknowledges the importance of the records which only Edward Stephens could have assembled, but insists that ‘the telling of the story of Synge’s life has been my responsiblity’ and that ‘[t]he interpretations and conclusion [...] and the actual writing, are my own’. (pp.viii-ix.) Greene’s acquaintance with Edward Stephens dated back to 1939, at which period he also met Molly Allgood and her sister Sara, W. G. Fay and Rev. Samuel Synge - all deceased by 1955. Miss Peggy Mair supplied letters of Synge to Molly Allgood and Mrs. W. B. Yeats lent letters and other papers relating to Synge, while Richard Ellmann lent letters written by Yeats to Lady Gregory in the same connection, as well as assisting with Yeats’s handwriting. Greene commenced the book in September 1955 during a sabbatical in Dublin, but was later permitted by Mrs Stephens to carry the relevant papers to New York, where he completed it. (See Introduction to J. M. Synge, 1871-1909 (Macmillan 1959).

 

Riders to the Sea: NOTE: Abbey Archive records Playboy venues as 20, 22-27 Jan. 1906; Annie Allgood as Woman; Sara Allgood as Maurya; Eva Dillon as Woman; William Fay as Bartley; Brigit O'Dempsey as Nora; Maire (Molly) O'Neill as Cathleen; Ambrose Peter as Men; Sam Whann as Men; Udolphus Wright as Men. (See Abbey online.)

Playboy revived at Old Vic (London), dir. John Crowley, with Robert Sheehan, Ruth Negga, Niamh Cusack, et al., Sept. 2011; Other Playboys incl Willie Fay (1907); Maeliosa Stafford(Druid, 1982-83); Cillian Murphy(Druid, 2004). See Nicholas Grene, ‘How 110-year-old Playboy caused a riot’,


Works
Poetry
  • Poems and Translations (Dublin: Cuala Press 1909) [ltd. edn. 250 copies], prefs. by W. B. Yeats (April 4 1909) & J. M. Synge (Glenageary, Dec. 1908); another edn. published privately by John Quinn (1909) [75 copies];
  • Robin Skelton, ed., ‘Some Sonnets from ‘Laura in Death’, after the Italian of Petrarch (Dublin: Dolmen 1971) [ltd. edn. 775];
  • Robin Skelton, ed., Poems, [in] Collected Works, Vol. I (Dolmen Press/OUP 1962), 128pp. [with introduction and apparatus].
 
Plays
  • The Shadow of the Glen, Riders to the Sea (London: Elkin Mathews 1905) [4,000 iss. in 1910 rep.]; Do. (Boston: John Luce & Co. 1911), 40pp. [available at Internet Archive - online]
  • The Well of the Saints by J. M. Synge: Being Volume Four of Plays for an Irish Theatre (London: A. H. Bullen 1905), with an ‘Introduction: Mr. Synge and His Plays’ by W. B. Yeats; and Do ., [Maunsel Pocket Edn.] (Dublin: Maunsel 1911);
  • The Playboy of the Western World (Dublin: Maunsel 1907), J. B. Yeats port.;
  • Deirdre of the Sorrows (Dublin: Cuala 1910), and Do. [Maunsel Pocket Edn.] (Dublin: Maunsel 1911);

Note: The Tinker’s Wedding, Riders to the Sea, and The Shadow of the Glen were all published in Maunsel Pocket Edns. (Dublin: Maunsel 1912) as part of a Collected Works edn. Likewise [in assoc.] Allen & Unwin published a Collected Works edition in 1910 incl. The Aran Islands.

Prose
  • The Aran Islands (Dublin: Maunsel 1907) [see extracts];
Correspondence
  • ‘Letters of John Millington Synge and Material Supplied by Max Meyerfeld’, in Yale Review (July 1924), pp.690-709;
  • Ann Saddlemyer, ed., John Millington Synge, Some Unpublished Letters (Montreal: Redpath Press 1959), 33pp.;
  • Ann Saddlemyer, ed., Some Letters of John M Synge to Lady Gregory and W. B. Yeats (Dublin: Cuala Press 1971), 85pp. [ltd. edn., 500 copies];
  • Ann Saddlemyer, ed., Letters to Molly, John Millington Synge to Maire O’Neill (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard UP 1971), xxxiv+330pp.;
  • L[ilo] M. Stephens, sel., My Wallet of Photographs (Dublin: Dolmen 1971);
  • Ann Saddlemyer, ed., Some Letters of John M. Synge to Lady Gregory and W. B. Yeats (Dublin: Cuala 1971);
  • Ann Saddlemyer, ed., ‘Synge to MacKenna: The Mature Yeats’, in Massachusetts Review, 5, 2 (Winter 1964), pp.279-295 [rep. in Irish Renaissance: A Gathering of Essays, Memoirs, and Letters from the Massachusetts Review, ed. Robin Skelton & David R. Clark (Dublin: Dolmen 1965), pp.65-79;
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Synge Manuscripts in the Library of TCD, A Catalogue Prepared for [ ] the Synge Centenary Exhibition, 1971 (Dublin: Dolmen 1971), 55pp.; incls. drafts of Playboy, &c.; reading and lecture notes on Locke, Stokes, Petrie and Trench (1889); language notebooks on Italian & Irish, with reading notes on folklore, mythology, contemp. writers and lit. exercises (1895-96;1898-99); notebook on var. subject - lit., artistic, scientific, political, and philosophical, inc. Marx and Hegel in German (1894-95); notes on Irish tramp, dialogue between Rabelais and Thomas à Kempis and other French material (1897-98). Notebook drafts of plays on old Irish themes, with notes on Villon, Ronsard and Greene (12904-08); Notebook dated Aranmore /Inismaan, May 1898; Notebook with drafts and poems for Vita Vecchia (1898); notebook with Wicklow material, related poems, Playboy material and notes for essay on “Historical and Peasant Drama” (Spring/Summer 1907); Notebook on Congested Districts; notes for Playboy (1905) [all the foregoing listed in Maria Filomena Pereira Rodriguez Louro, “The Drama of J. M. Synge: A Challenge to the Ideology of Myths of Irishness” (PhD Diss., Univ. of Warwick 1991 [.pdf online; accessed 02.11.2009].

 

See also [q.a.,] ‘Infinite Riches in a Little Room: The Manuscripts of J. M. Synge’, in Long Room, 1, 3 (TCD Library [q.d.])

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Collected Editions
  • W. R. Rodgers, intro., Collected Plays [Penguin Books, 845] (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1952);
  • Robin Skelton, Alan Price & Ann Saddlemyer, eds., Collected Works of John Millington Synge, 4 vols. (OUP 1962-68) - Vol. 1: Poems, ed. Skelton (1962), Vol. 2: Prose, ed. Price (1966), Vols. 3 & 4: Plays, ed. Saddlemyer (1968) [see details];
  • Alison Smith, ed., Plays, Poems and Prose [Everyman] (London: J. M. Dent 1975), and Do
  • [rev. edn. as] Collected Plays, Poems and The Aran Islands [Everyman Library; rev. edn.] (London: J. M. Dent 1992, 1996), xxxiv, 382pp. [see contents];
  • T[om] R Henn, ed., The Plays and Poems of J. M. Synge [Univ. Paperback Drama Book] (London: Methuen 1963; rep. 1968)
Reprint Editions
  • David R. Clark, ed., John Millington Synge, Riders to the Sea (Columbus Ohio: Merrill 1970), vi+137pp.;
  • Anne Saddlemyer, ed., The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays [World Classics Series] (OUP 1995) [see contents];
  • The Playboy of the Western World and Two Other Irish Plays (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1996), 224pp. [Synge, Yeats, and O’Casey];
  • Tim Robinson, ed. & intro., The Aran Islands [1907] (Penguin 1997), 150pp.;
  • J. M. Synge’s Aran Islands and Connemara (Cork: Mercier Press 2008), 224pp.;
  • The Aran Islands (London: Serif 2008), 226pp.
  • Travels in Wicklow, West Kerry and Connemara, introduced by Paddy Woodworth (London: Serif 2008), 223pp., ill. [Jack Yeats].
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Works of J. M. Synge available at Gutenberg Project (June 2007)
Drama    
  • Deirdre of the Sorrows
  • In Shadow of the Glen
  • The Playboy of the Western World
  • Riders to the Sea
  • The Tinker’s Wedding
  • The Well of the Saints
 
Prose  
  • The Aran Islands
  • In Wicklow and West Kerry
 
…. Go to Gutenbergy Project [ online ]
Also at Internet Archive
Drama    
  • Deirdre of the Sorrows
  • In Shadow of the Glen
  • The Playboy of the Western World
  • Riders to the Sea
  • The Tinker’s Wedding
  • The Well of the Saints
 
Prose  
  • The Aran Islands
  • In Wicklow and West Kerry
 

Bibliographical Details

Robin Skelton, Alan Price & Ann Saddlemyer, ed., Collected Works of John Millington Synge (London: Oxford University Press 1962-68), as follows: Robin Skelton [General Editor], Vol. I, containing “Poems, Translations, and some Poetic Drama”; Alan Price, ed., Vol. II (1966), containing “Prose: Autobiographical Sketches The Aran Islands; In Wicklow, West Kerry and Connemara, and various Reviews and Essays or Notes about Literature”; Ann Saddlemyer, ed., Vol. III (1968), containing “Riders to the Sea”; “The Shadow of the Glen”; “The Well of the Saints”; “When the Moon Has Set”; Fifteen Scenarios, Dialogues, and Fragments from Unpublished Material; Draft Material; editorial apparatus”. Ann Saddlemyer, ed., Vol. IV (1968), containing “The Tinker’s Wedding”; “The Playboy of the Western World”; “Deirdre of the Sorrows”; Draft Material; editorial apparatus. [See Weldon Thornton, Synge and the Western Mind, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1979.]

Anne Saddlemyer, ed., The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays [World Classics Series] (OUP 1995), 213pp., in which the texts stand as in 1968 edn., with refs. to variants for The Well of the Saints more recently discovered; also select bibliography and bio-chronology; titles include Riders to the Sea [first publ. 1903]; The Shadow of the Glen ([1904]; The Tinker’s Wedding [1907]; The Well of the Saints [1905]; The Playboy of the Western World [1907]; Deirdre of the Sorrows [orig. 1910].

Alison Smith, ed., Plays, Poems and Prose [Everyman] (London: J. M. Dent 1975), and Do [rev. edn. as] Collected Plays, Poems and The Aran Islands [Everyman Library; rev. edn.] (London: J. M. Dent 1992, 1996), xxxiv, 382pp. CONTENTS: Plays in one act: Shadow of the glen; Riders to the sea. Plays in two acts: Tinker’s wedding. Plays in three acts: Well of the saints; Playboy of the western world; Deirdre of the sorrows. Poems and translations: Aran Islands. Bibl., pp.[xxxiii]-xxxiv.]

In Wicklow and West Kerry (1910), contains “In Wicklow”, “In West Kerry” (1907), “In the Congested Districts”, and “Under Ether”. The 1911 edn. omits the last-named and retitles the third “In Connemara”. The Kerry pieces first appeared in successive numbers of The Shanachie for 1907; the Connemara sections originally appeared as a series of twelve articles in Manchester Guardian (10 June-26 July 1905); ill. Jack B Yeats.

The Works of John M. Synge, Library Edition, Large Crown 8vo., 5 vols. (25/6 net); Pocket edn., foolscap 8vo., quarter parchment, gilt top. Complete set of 8 vols. in box (20/- net), also separately (2/6 net). Vol. 1, The Playboy of the Western World; Vol. II, Deirdre of the Sorrows; Vol. III, The Well of the Saints; Vol. IV, The Tinker’s Wedding, Riders to the Sea, and In the Shadow of the Glen; Vol. V, Poems and Translations; Vol. VI & VII, The Aran Islands; Vol. VIII, In Wicklow and West Kerry. Also, The Aran Islands, with drawings by Jack B. Yeats, large Crown 8vo., cloth, gilt, 6/-.

DruidSynge: The Plays of John Millington Synge [Catalogue of Druid Th. Co. presentation of the Synge stage canon] (Galway: Druid Performing Arts 2005), 121pp., ill., ports. [incl. “John Millington Synge” by Tim Robinson, p.27; biographies of cast and crew.

Query, An Old Woman’s Lamentations (Dublin: Cuala Press 1907) [presum. Riders to the Sea].

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Criticism
Early notices
  • Obituary, in The Irish Times (25 March 1909), accompanied by a leader on the subject and a report on the ‘Funeral of Mr J. M. Synge’ (pp.6 & 8).
  • George A. Birmingham, ‘The Literary Movement in Ireland’, in Fortnight Review, LXXXII (Dec. 2 1907), pp.947-57.
  • Mary Colum, ‘John Synge’, in Irish Review, Vol. 1, No. 1 (March 1911), pp.39-42. Warren Barton Blake, ‘A Great Irish Playwright - John M. Synge’, in The Theatre (June 1911), pp.202-04.
  • W. B. Yeats, ‘J. M. Synge and the Ireland of His Time’, in The Forum, XLVI [New York] (August 1911), pp.179-200; rep. in Essays (London: Macmillan 1924) [therein dated 14 Sept. 1910].
  • Jack B. Yeats, ‘With Synge in Connemara’, in W. B. Yeats, [ed.,] Synge and the Ireland of His Time … &c.] (Dublin: Cuala Press 1911) [var. ‘Note Concerning a Walk with Synge through Connemara’].
  • John Masefield, ‘John M. Synge’, in Contemporary Review (April 1911), pp.470-78.
  • Francis Bickley, J. M. Synge and the Irish Dramatic Movement (London: Constable; NY: Houghton Mifflin 1912), 96pp. [see extract].
  • Percival Presland Howe, J. M. Synge: A Critical Study (London: Martin Secker 1912), 216pp., Do ., rep. edn. (Conn: Greenwood Publ. [1995]).
  • Maurice Bourgeois, John Millington Synge and the Irish Theatre (London: Constable 1913), xiv, 338pp., [17pp., ills., ports.]; Do. [rep. edn.] (NY: Haskell House, 1966), xiv, 337pp., and Do. (NY; Benjamin Blom 1968), xvi + 334pp. [Bibl., pp.251-314].
  • Lady Gregory, Our Irish Theatre (NY: Putnam 1913), esp. pp.119-39 [rep. from The English Review (March 1913), pp.556-66].
  • Robert de Flers, Figaro (14 Dec. 1913), p.4 [review of performance of French translation of Playboy ].
  • John Masefield, John M. Synge: A Few Personal Recollections with Biographical Notes by John Masefield (NY: Macmillan 1915), 35pp. [rep. in Masefield, Recent Prose, 1924, pp.163-87].
  • Barrett H. Clarke, ‘The Playboy in Paris’, Colonnade 11 (Jan. 1916), cp.23.
  • Padraic Colum, ‘Memories of Synge’, in The Literary Review [of New York Evening Post ] II (4 June 1921), pp.1-2.
  • Yeats, ‘More Memories’, in The Dial, LXXIII [Chicago] (Sept. 1922), pp.283-302 [incl. his description of the meeting with Synge in Paris, pp.298-301], Do ., rep. in The Trembling of the Veil 1922), and in Autobiographies (1926), &c..
  • Hugh l’A Fausset, ‘Synge and Tragedy’, in Fortnight Review, CXV (Feb. 1 1924), pp.258-73.
  • ‘CHH’ [Cherrie Matheson], ‘John Synge as I Knew Him’, in The Irish Statesman, 5 July 1924, pp.532, 534 [prefaced [by] Yeats’s ‘A Memory of Synge’].
  • Arthur Lynch, ‘Synge’, a Letter to the Editor in The Irish Statesman (20 Oct. 1928), p.131.
  • W. B. Yeats, ‘The Death of Synge and Other Pages from an Old Diary’, in The Dial [Chicago], April 1928, pp.271-88; Do ., rep. as ‘… and Other Passages… (&c.), in The London Mercury, XVII, April 1928, pp.637-52, and Do., rep. as The Death of Synge, and Other Passages from an Old Diary (Churchtown, Dundrum [Dublin]: Cuala Press 1928) [later ‘The Death of Synge: Extracts from a Diary Kept in 1909’, in Autobiographies, Macmillan 1955, pp.499-527].
  • S[amuel] Synge, Letters to my Daughter: Memories of John Millington Synge (Talbot 1932) [var. 1st edn. 1931].
  • Frank O’Connor, ‘Synge’, in The Irish Theatre, ed. Lennox Robinson (London: Macmillan 1939), xiv, 220pp.

See also Frank Hugh O’Donnell, The Stage Irishman and the Pseudo-Celtic Drama (1904), attack on the Abbey rep. in Stephen Brown, S.J., Guide to Books on Ireland (Dublin: Talbot 1912) [q.pp.]. For contemporary Irish views of Synge, see Irish Book Lover, Vols. 1-6;

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Standard biographies & major studies
  • Daniel Corkery, Synge and the Anglo-Irish Literature: A Study (Cork UP; London: Longmans, Green 1931; Cork UP 1966);
  • David H. Greene & Edward M. Stephens, J. M. Synge 1871-1909 (NY: Macmillan 1959; 1961), x, 321pp.; Notes, p303ff.; Published Works, p.308ff.; Index, p.311ff.;
  • D. Gerstenberger, John Millington Synge (NY: Twayne UP 1964);
  • Ann Saddlemyer, J. M. Synge and Modern Comedy (Dublin: Dolmen 1968);
  • Robin Skelton, J. M. Synge and His World (London: Thames & Hudson; NY: Viking 1971), 144pp., ills.;
  • Andrew Carpenter, ed., My Uncle John: Edward Stephens’s Life of J. M. Synge (OUP 1974), xviii, 222pp., index [see contents];
  • Nicholas Grene, Synge: A Critical Study Interpretation of the Plays (NJ: Rowman & Littlefield; London: Macmillan 1975);
  • Weldon Thornton, Synge and the Western Mind (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1979), 169pp. [see contents];
  • Declan Kiberd, Synge and the Irish Language (London: Macmillan 1979), and Do ., [2nd edn.] (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1993), 294pp.
  • Mary C. King, The Drama of J. M. Synge (London: Fourth Estate 1985);
  • David M. Kiely, J. M. Synge: A Biography (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1994).
  • W. J. McCormack, The Fool of the Family: The Life and Death of J. M. Synge (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2000), 499pp.
  • Brian Cliff & Nicholas Grene, eds., Synge and Edwardian Ireland (OUP 2011), 288pp. [see contents].
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Paper collections
  • Thomas R. Whitaker, ed., Twentieth-Century Interpretations of Playboy of the Western World (NJ: Prentice Hall 1969);
  • Maurice Harmon, ed., J. M. Synge Centenary Papers, 1971 (Dublin: Dolmen 1972), xvi+202pp [incl. Seán Ó Tuama, ‘Synge and the Idea of a National Literature’, pp.1-17; Alan J. Bliss, ‘The Language of Synge’, cp.35; Thomas Kilroy, ‘Synge and Modernism’, pp.167-79, &c.];
  • Suheil B Bushrui, ed., Sunshine and the Moon’s Delight, A Centenary Tribute to John Millington Synge (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1972) [incl. Ann Saddlemyer, ‘Art, Nature and “The Prepared Personality”, A Reading of The Aran Islands and Related Writings’, pp.107-20; Robert O’Driscoll, ‘Yeats’s Conception of Synge’, pp.159-71];
  • Ronald Ayling, ed., J. M. Synge: [Collection of Critical Essays on ] Four Plays (London: Macmillan 1992);
  • Nicholas Grene, ed., Interpreting Synge: Essays from the Synge Summer School 1991-2000 (Dublin: Lilliput 2000), 220pp. [see contents].
  • Claire Culleton, ed., Irish Modernism and the Global Primitive (London: Palgrave 2009) [incls. Justin Carville, ‘Visible Others: Photography and Romantic Ethnograhy in Ireland’].
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Bibliographies & reference
  • [Q. auth.,] ‘A Check List of First Editions of Works by John Millington Synge and George William Russell’, TCD Annual Bulletin (1956), pp.4-9;
  • M. J. MacManus, A Bibliography of Books Written by John Millington Synge [Bibliograpies of Irish Authors, 4] (Dublin: Talbot Press 1930) [prev. in Dublin Magazine, n.s., V (Oct.-Dec. 1930), pp.47-51];
  • Sean O’Faolain, ‘John Millington Synge’ (1871-1909), in F. W. Bateson, ed., The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, III (Cambridge UP [1967]), pp.1062-63;
  • E. A. Kopper, Jnr., ed., John Millington Synge, A Reference Guide (Boston: G. K. Hall; London: George Prior 1970);
  • Paul M. Levitt, J. M. Synge: Bibliography of Published Criticism (Dublin: IUP 1974), 224pp.;
  • E. H. Mikhail, J. M. Synge: A Bibliography of Criticism (London: Macmillan; Totowa, NJ: Rowman &c. 1975), 214pp.;
  • E. A. Kopper, A J. M. Synge Literary Companion (NY: Greenwood Press 1988).

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Critical Studies: Annual Listing
1940-
  • David H. Greene, ‘An Adequate Text of J. M. Synge’, in Modern Language Notes, LXI [Baltimore] (Nov. 1946), pp.466-67.
  • Benedict Kiely, ‘Liam O’Flaherty: A Story of Discontent’, in The Month, [n.s.] II (Sept. 1949), c.p.185.[remarks the O’Flaherty was essentially a stranger in mainland Ireland].
  • Synge Special Number, The Envoy, No. 16 (March 1951), [includes contribs. by Patrick Kavanagh, Owen Quinn, et al.].
  • Irving D. Suss, ‘The Playboy Riots’, in Irish Writing, 18 (March 1952), pp.39-42.
  • Donald Davie, ‘On the Poetic Diction of J. M. Synge’, Dublin Magazine, Vol. 27 [new series] (1952), pp.32-8.
  • Raymond Williams, ‘J. M. Synge’, in Drama: From Ibsen to Eliot (London: Chatto and Windus 1952), pp.154-74.
  • Denis Donoghue, ‘Synge, Riders to the Sea, A Study’ in Irish University Review, 1 (Summer 1955), pp.52-58 [rep. in Clark, op. cit. infra 1970].
  • Herbert Howarth, The Irish Writers 1880-1940 (London: Rockliff 1958) [q.pp.]
1960 -
  • Alan Price, Synge and Anglo-Irish Drama (London: Methuen 1961), xii, 236pp.
  • Patricia Meyer Spacks, ‘The Making of the Playboy’, in Modern Drama IV (Dec. 1961), pp.314-23.
  • T. R. Henn, intro. to.“The Playboy of the Western World”, in From the Plays and Poems of J. M. Synge, ed. Henn (London: Methuen & Co. 1963), pp.56-67.
  • Michael J. Sidnell, ‘Synge’s Playboy and the Champion of Ulster’, in Dalhousie Review, XLV (Spring 1965), pp.51-59.
  • Donna Gerstenberger, John Millington Synge (Boston: Twayne Publ. 1964), and Do. [rev. edn. 1990], xii, 144pp.
  • Denis Johnston, John Millington Synge (NY & London: Columbia UP 1965), 48pp.
  • Howard D. Pearce, ‘Synge’s Playboy as Mock-Christ’, in Modern Drama, 8, 3 (Dec. 1965), pp.303-10.
    Robin Skelton and Ann Saddlemyer, eds., The World of W. B. Yeats (Seattle: Washington UP 1965).
  • Ann Saddlemyer, ‘Rabelais Versus à Kempis: The Art of J. M. Synge’, in Komos, 1 (1967), pp.85-96.
  • Diane E. Bessie, ‘Little Hound in Mayo’, in Dalhousie Review, XLVIII (Autumn 1968), pp.372-83.
  • James F. Kilroy, ‘The Playboy as Poet’, in PMLA, LXXXIII (May 1968), pp.439-42.
  • Malcolm Pittock, ‘Riders to the Sea ‘; in English Studies, XLIX (Oct. 1968), pp.445-49.
  • Stanley Sultan, ‘A Joycean Look at The Playboy of the Western World ‘, in Maurice Harmon, ed., The Celtic Master [1st Joyce Symposium in Dublin 1967] (Dolmen Press 1969), pp.45-55.
  • Paul M. Levitt, ‘The Structural Craftsmanship of J. M. Synge’s Riders to the Sea’, in Éire-Ireland, 4, 1 (Spring 1969), pp. 53-61.
1970-
  • Jeanne Flood, ‘The Pre-Aran Writings of J. M. Synge’, in Éire-Ireland, 5, 3 (Autumn 1970), pp.63-80.
  • Seán McMahon, ‘Clay and Worms’, in Éire-Ireland, 5, 4 (Winter 1970), pp.116-43.
  • James F. Kilroy, The Playboy Riots [Irish Theatre Series, No. 4] (Dublin: Dolmen 1971), 101pp.
  • Robin Skelton, The Writings of J. M. Synge (NY: Bobbs-Merrill; London: Thames & Hudson 1971), 190pp.
  • Robin Skelton, Remembering Synge [Poetry Ireland Edns.] (Poetry Ireland 1971).
  • W. R. Rodgers, Irish Literary Portraits (London: BBC 1972), “J. M. Synge,” pp.94-115.
  • S. B. Bushrui, ‘Synge and some Companions with a Note Concerning a Walk through Connemara with Jack Yeats, Yeats Studies No. 2 (1972), pp.18-34.
  • Balahantra Rajan, Yeats, Synge and the Tragic Understanding’, in Yeats Studies No. 2 (1972), pp.66-79.
  • Malcolm Kelsall, ‘Synge in Aran’, in Irish University Review, V, 2 (Autumn 1975), pp.254-70.
  • Suheil Bushrui, ‘Synge and the Doors of Perception’, in Andrew Carpenter, eds., Place, Personality, and the Irish Writer (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1977), pp.97-120 [var. Ann Saddlemyer].
  • K[atherine] Worth, The Irish Drama of Europe, From Yeats to Beckett (London: Athlone Press 1978);
  • Paul F. Botheroyd, ‘Tinkers, Tramps and Travellers in Early Twentieth-century Irish Drama and Society’, in Studies in Anglo-Irish Literature, ed. Heinz Kosok (Bonn: Bouvier Verlag Herbert Grundmann 1982), [espec. p.162].
  • Mary C. King, The Drama of J. M. Synge (Syracuse UP 1985), 229pp. [see contents].
  • Robert Welch, ‘J. M. Synge: “Transfigured Realism”’, Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing (London: Routledge 1993), pp.80-118.
  • Kiberd, ‘John Millington Synge agus athbheocan na Gaeilge’, in Scríobh 4 (1979) pp.221-23.
  • George Watson, ‘J. M. Synge, The Watcher and the Shadows’, in Irish Identity and the Literary Revival (London: Croom Helm 1979), pp.35-86.
1980-
  • Anthony Roche, ‘The Two Worlds of Synge’s The Well of Saints’, in The Genres of Irish Literary Revival , ed. Ronald Schleifer (Oklahoma: Pilgrim; Dublin: Wolfhound 1980), pp.27-38.
  • Alan Warner, ‘John Millington Synge’ [chap.], in A Guide to Anglo-Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1981), pp.182-208.
  • T. O’Brien Johnson, Synge: The Medieval and the Grotesque (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1982).
  • Nicholas Grene & Ann Saddlemyer, ‘Stephen MacKenna on Synge: A Lost Memoir,’ in Irish University Review (Autumn 1982) [q.p.].
  • Eugene Benson J. M. Synge (Dublin: Macmillan 1982), xii, 167pp., ill. [8pp. pls.].
  • Mark Patrick Hederman, ‘The Playboy versus the Western World, Synge’s political role as artist ‘, in Crane Bag Book of Irish Studies (1982), pp.59-65.
  • D. E. S. Maxwell ‘W. B. Yeats and J. M. Synge,’ Modern Irish Drama [Chap. 3] (OUP 1984), pp.33-59.
  • Seamus Deane, ‘Synge and Heroism’, in Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature, 1880-1980 (London: Faber & Faber 1985), pp.51-62.
  • Nicholas Grene, Synge: A Critical Study (Basinstoke: Macmillan 1975), and Do. [rep. with alterations] (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1985), 202pp.
  • Anthony Cronin, ‘John Millington Synge: Apart from Anthropology’, Heritage Now: Irish Literature in the English Language (Dingle: Brandon 1982), pp.95-104.
  • Maxwell, ‘J. M. Synge and Samuel Beckett’, in Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley, eds., Across the Roaring Hill, The Protestant Imagination in Modern Ireland (Belfast: Blackstaff 1985), pp.25-38.
  • James Carney, The Playboy and the Yellow Lady (Dublin: Poolbeg Press 1986).
  • [...]
1990-
  • Robin Skelton, Celtic Contraries (Syracuse UP 1990), espec. Chaps 1, 2 & 3.
  • Maria Filomena Pereira Rodriguez Louro, “The Drama of J. M. Synge: A Challenge to the Ideology of Myths of Irishness” (PhD Diss., Univ. of Warwick 1991) [Synge as ‘coloniser who refuses’ [after Fanon].
  • Daniel J. Casey, ed., Critical Essays on John Millington Synge (NY: G.K. Hall [1994]), ix, 188pp. [infra].
  • Declan Kiberd, ‘J. M. Synge - Remembering the Future’, in Inventing Ireland: the Literature of the Modern Nation (London: Jonathan Cape 1995), pp.167-88.
  • Deborah Fleming, The Man Who does not Exist: The Peasant in the Work of W. B. Yeats and J. M. Synge (Michigan UP 1995).
  • Joseph Devlin ‘The Source of Synge’s Playboy of the Western World,’, in Notes on Modern Irish Literature, 7, 2 (Fall 1995), pp.5-9.
  • Alexander G. Gonzalez, Assessment of the Achievement of J. M. Synge (Conn: Greenwood Press 1996), 250pp.
  • René Agostini, ‘J. M. Synge’s Celestial Peasants’, in Rural Ireland, Real Ireland, ed. Jacqueline Genet (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1996) [c.p.163.]
  • Anthony R. Hale, ‘Framing the Folk: Zora Neale Hurston, John Millington Synge, and the Politics of Aesthetic Ethnography’, in The Comparatist, ‘Postcolonial Theory and Irish Literature’ [Special Issue, guest ed., Michael R. Molino], Vol. XX [Virginia Commonwealth Univ.] (May 1996), pp.50-61.
  • Luke Gibbons, ‘Synge, Country and Western: The Myth of the West in Irish and American Culture’ in Transformations in Irish Culture (Field Day/Cork UP 1996), pp.23-35.
  • Ronán MacDonald, ‘A Gallous Story or a Dirty Deed?: J. M. Synge and the Art of Guit’, in Irish Studies Review, No. 17 (Winter 1996/97), pp.25-30.
  • Joseph Devlin, ‘J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World and the Culture of Western Ireland under Late Colonial Rule’, in Modern Drama, 41 (1998), pp.371-84.
  • Chiaki Kojima, ‘“J. M. Synge and Nationalism: Concerning The Playboy of the Western World’, in The Harp, 13, (1998), pp.50-60 [available at JSTOR - online].
2000-
  • Declan Kiberd, ‘Synge’s Tristes Tropiques: The Aran Islands’, in Irish Classics (London: Granta 2000), pp.420-39.
  • Mary C. King, ‘Conjuring Past or Future? Versions of Synge’s “Play of ’98”’, in The Irish Review, 26, 1 (Autumn 2000), pp.71-79;
  • David Edgar, ‘What’s Coming’, review of W. J. McCormack, Fool of the Family: A Life of J. M. Synge, in London Review of Books (22 March 2001, pp.34-35) [see extract]
  • Rob Doggett, ‘In the Shadow of the Glen: Gender, Nationalism, and “A Woman Only”’, in ELH [English Literary History] 67, 4 (Winter 2000), pp.1011-34 [available at JSTOR - online; see summary.]
  • Gregory Castle, Modernism and the Celtic Revival (Cambridge UP 2001) [Chap. 3, ‘“Synge-on-Aran”: The Aran Islands and the Subject of Revivalist Ethnography’, & Chap. 4, ‘Staging Ethnography’].
  • Christopher Morash, ‘A Night at the Theatre 4: The Playboy of the Western World and Riders to the Sea […] Abbey Theatre, Tuesday 29 January 1907’ [chap. in], A History of Irish Theatre 1601-2000 (Cambridge UP 2002), pp.130-38.
  • Ronan McDonald, Tragedy and Irish Literature: Synge, O’Casey, Beckett (London: Palgrave 2002), 214pp.
  • Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel, Synge and Irish Nationalism: The Precursor to Revolution (Westport, NJ: Greenwood Press 2002), xvi, 113pp.
  • Paul Murphy, ‘J. M. Synge and the Pitfalls of National Consciousness’, in Theatre Research International, 28 [Cambridge Online Journals] (28 July 2003) [available at TRI - online].
  • P. J. Matthews, Revival: The Abbey Theatre, Sinn Féin, the Gaelic League and the Co-operative Movement (Cork UP 2003), 280pp. [whole chap. on Shadw of the Glen.].
  • Mary C. King, ‘J. M. Synge, “National” Drama and the post-Protestant Imagination’, in The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-century Irish Drama, ed. Shaun Richards (Cambridge UP 2003) [Chap. 6].
  • Nelson Ó Ceallaigh Ritschel, ‘In the Shadow of the Glen: Synge, Ostrovsky, and Marital Separation’, in New Hibernia Review, 7, 4 (Winter 2004), pp.85-102 [available at JSTOR - online; see extract].
  • James Pethica, ‘“A Young Man’s Ghost”: Lady Gregory and J. M. Synge’, in Irish University Review, 34, 1, Spring/Summer 2004), pp.1-20 [see extract].
  • Adrian Frazier, Playboys of the Western World: Production Histories (Carysfort Press (Dublin: Carysfort Press 2004), xiv, 182pp.
  • Ben Levitas, ‘Mirror up to Nurture: J. M. Synge and His Critics’, in Modern Drama, 47, 4 [Special Irish Issue, ed. Karen Fricker & Brian Singleton] (Winter 2004), pp.542-84.
  • Colm Tóibín, ed., Synge: A Celebration (Carysfort Press 2005), 179pp. [contribs. incl. Sebastian Barry, Marina Carr, Anthony Cronin, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Joseph O’Connor, Mary O’Malley, Fintan O’Toole, Vincent Woods; available at Google Books - online; see also review].
  • George Cusack, ‘“In the gripe of the ditch”: Nationalism, famine and The Playboy of the Western World’, in Hungry Words. Images of Famine in the Irish Canon, ed., Cusack & Sarah Gross (Dublin: IAP 2006), pp.133-58.
  • Andrea Mayr, The Aran Islands and Anglo-Irish Literature: a Literary History and Selected Studies, with a preface by Otto Rauchbauer (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang 2008) [sect. on Synge].
  • Mary Burke, “Tinkers”: Synge and the Cultural History of the Irish Traveller (Oxford: OUP 2009), 344pp. [launched at Synge Summer School, June 2009].
  • George Cusack, The Politics of Identity in Irish Drama: W.B. Yeats, Augusta Gregory and J. M. Synge (London: Routledge 2009), 210pp.
  • Barry Monahan, Ireland’s Theatre on Film: Style, Stories and the National Stage on Screen (Dublin; IAP 2009), viii, 279pp., ill. [chap: ‘John Millington Synge and Ireland / Brian Desmond Hurst’].
2010-
  • Nicholas Grene, ‘J. M. Synge’, in W. B. Yeats in Context, ed. David Holdeman & Ben Levitas (Cambridge UP 2010) [Chap. 13].
  • Colm Tóibín, ‘New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Synge and His Family’, in New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families (London: Viking [Penguin] 2012), pp.78-110.
  • Alex Davis, ‘J. M. Synge’s Vita Vecchia and Aucassin et Nicolette’, in Notes and Queries, 58, 1 (Oxford 2011), pp.125-27.
  • Alan Titley, ‘The Irish Language and Synge’, in Nailing Theses: Selected Essays (Belfast: Lagan Press 2011), pp.130-44 [see extract].
  • Patrick Lonergan, ed., Synge and his Influences: Centenary Essays from the Synge Summer School (Dublin: Carysfort Press 2011), xvii, 309pp. [see contents]
 

See also Nicholas Grene, ‘Reality Check: Authenticity from Synge to McDonagh’, Lecture at Univ. of N. Carolina, English Department (2 Dec. 2004), printed in Munira H. Mutran & Laura P. Z. Izarra, eds., Irish Studies in Brazil, Sao Paolo Univ.: Associação Editorial Humanitas 2005), pp.69-88, espec. pp.71ff.

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General reading
  • Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh, The Splendid Years: Recollections of Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh: As told to Edward Kenny (Dublin: James Duffy 1955).
  • Lady Augusta Gregory, Our Irish Theatre. Buckinghamshire: Colin Smythe, 1972.
  • Hogan, Robert & James Kilroy, The Abbey Theatre: The Years of Synge, 1905-1909 (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1978) Morash, Christopher. A History of Irish Theatre: 1601-2000. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Fitz-Simon, Christopher. The Abbey Theatre: Ireland’s National Theatre, The First 100 Years ( London: Thames & Hudson 2003).
  • Irish Theatre on Tour, ed. Nicholas Grene & Chris Morash (Dublin: Carysfort Press 2005), [incls. John P. Harrington, ‘The Abbey in America: The Real Thing’, pp.35-50].

Bibliographical details

My Uncle John: Edward Stephens’s Life of J. M. Synge, ed. Andrew Carpenter (Oxford: OUP 1974), xviii, 222pp, ill. [8pp. of plates, ports.; lf of pl.]. Foreword by Lilo M. Stephens; Introduction & Acknowledgements; The Synge Family; My Uncle John; Pt. I: 1871-1892; Pt II: 1893-1900; III: 1901-1909

Includes back-paper notice of Collected Works, ed. Robin Skelton, et al. Letters to Molly [Maire O’Neill], ed. Ann Saddlemyer; My Wallet of Photographs, Collected Photographs of J. M. Synge, arranged and introduced by Lilo Stephen (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1971); J. M. Synge Centenary Papers, ed. Maurice Harmon (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1971). Crayon Port. by James Paterson.

Mary C. King, The Drama of J. M. Synge (Syracuse UP 1985), 229pp. [1. Origins are Emblematic as the Results Themselves; 2. Synge and The Aran Islands: A Dramatic Apprenticeship; 3. Riders to the Seas: A Journal Beyond the Literal; 4. Towards the Antithetical Vision: Syntaz and Imagery in In the Shadow of the Glen; 5. The Play of Life: The Tinker's Wedding Revisited; 6. Word and Vision: Language as Symbolic Action in The Well of the Saints; 7. Metadrama in The Playboy of the Western World; 8. Text and Context in When the Moon has Set; Myth and History: Deirdre of the Sorrows; Not Marble nor the Gilded Monument: Sygne Reassessment. [See extract.]

Daniel J. Casey, ed., ed., Critical Essays on John Millington Synge (NY: G.K. Hall [1994];), ix, 188pp. Contents: Casey, ‘J. M. Synge: a reappraisal’; David H. Greene, ‘Synge’s poetic use of language’; Seamus Deane, ‘Synge’s prose writings: a first view of the whole’; Alan Price, ‘The poems’; Robin Skelton, ‘Text and context in When the Moon has Set’; Mary C. King, ‘Yeats and Synge: ‘A young man’s ghost’’; Donna Gerstenberger, ‘Synge’s The Shadow of the Glen: repetition and allusion’; Nicholas Grene, ‘An Aran requiem: setting in Riders to the sea’; Daniel J. Casey ‘The two worlds of Synge’s The Well of the Saints’; Anthony Roche, ‘Myth and journey in The Well of the Saints’; Kate Powers, ‘The playboy as poet’; James F. Kilroy, ‘A carnival Christy and a playboy for all ages’; George Brethertonm, ‘Synge’s ideas of life and art: design and theory in The Playboy of the Western World’; William Hart, ‘“Too immoral for Dublin”: Synge’s The Tinker’s Wedding’; Denis Donoghue, ‘The Tinker’s Wedding’; Weldon Thornton, ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows: literature first [ ..] drama afterwards’; Ann Saddlemyer, ‘The realism of J. M. Synge’; Ronald Gaskell. ‘Ireland In literature’.

Weldon Thornton, Synge and the Western Mind (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1979), 169pp.; Acknowledgements [9]; Introduction [11]; I: Seed Time of the Soul [15]; II: The Verge of the Western World [50]; III: Shock of Some Inconceivable Idea [72]; IV: First Fruits, The Shadow of the Glen, Riders to the Sea, The Tinker’s Wedding [97]; Dreamer’s Vexation or Poet’s Balm?: The Well of the Saints, and The Playboy of the Western World [127]; VI: A Sense that fits him to perceive objects unseen before: Deirdre of the Sorrows [144]; Conclusion, Bibliography. [158]; Index. See Bibliography in RICORSOLibrary, “Bibliography - Scholars”, infra.

Nicholas Grene, ed., Interpreting Synge: Essays from the Synge Summer School, 1991-2000 (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2000), 220pp. CONTENTS: Seamus Heaney, “Glanmore Eclogue”; Nicholas Grene, ‘On the Margins: Synge and Wicklow’; R. F. Foster, ‘Good Behaviour: Yeats, Synge and Anglo-Irish Etiquette’; Frank McGuinness, ‘John Millington Synge and the King of Norway’; Angela Bourke, ‘Keening as theatre: J.M. Synge and the Irish Lament Tradition’; J. M. Synge, “On an island”; Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, “Ar Oileán”; Declan Kiberd, ‘Synge’s tristes tropiques: The Aran Islands’; Tom Paulin, ‘Riders to the Sea: a Revisionist Tragedy?’; Antoinette Quinn, ‘Staging the Irish Peasant Woman: Maud Gonne versus Synge’; Christopher Morash, ‘All Playboys Now: the Audience and the Riot’; Martin Hilsky, ‘Re-imagining Synge’s Language: the Czech Experience’; Gerald Dawe, “Distraction”; Anthony Roche, ‘J. M. Synge and Molly Allgood: The Woman and the Tramp’; Ann Saddlemyer, ‘Synge’s soundscape’; Brendan Kennelly, “Synge”.

Brian Cliff & Nicholas Grene, eds., Synge and Edwardian Ireland (OUP 2011), 288pp. [see contents] Illustrations; Foreword; Introduction. PART I - EDWARDIAN IRELAND: 1. The Edwardian Condition of Ireland; 2. Synge’s Typewriter: the Technological Sublime in Edwardian Ireland; 3. Stalking Yeats: the Celebrity System of Revivalist Dublin; 4. Synge and Edwardian Theatre; 5. Preserving the Relics of Heroic Time: Visualizing the Celtic Revival in Early Twentieth-Century Ireland]; 6. Synge, Music and Edwardian Dublin; 7. Political Animals: Somerville and Ross and Percy French on Edwardian Ireland. PART II - SYNGE: CONTEXTS AND COMPARISONS: 8. Synge and Modernity in The Aran Islands; 9. Synge, Reading, and Archipelago; 10. Travelling Home: J.M. Synge and the Politics of Place; 11. With his ‘Mind-guided Camera’: J. M. Synge, J. J. Clarke and the Visual Politics of Edwardian Street Photography; 12. The price of kelp in Connemara: Synge, Pearse, and the idealisation of folk culture; 13. Ghostly Intertexts: James Joyce and the Legacy of Synge. Bibliography . [Onine edition 2012.]

Patrick Lonergan, ed., Synge and his Influences: Centenary Essays from the Synge Summer School (Dublin: Carysfort Press 2011), xvii, 309pp. [Contributors include Ann Saddlemyer, Ben Levitas, Mary Burke, Paige Reynolds, Eil´s Ní Dhuibhne, Mark Phelan, Shaun Richards, Ondrej Pilny, Richard Pine, Alexandra Poulain, Emilie Pine, Melissa Sihra, Sara Keating, Bisi Adigun, Adrian Frazier and Anthony Roche - treating of considers Synge's place in Ireland today, espec. how The Playboy of the Western World as an agent of globalisation and multi-culturalism in productions by the Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre, and Pan Pan Theatre Company; also treats of Brian Friel, Tom Murphy, Marina Carr, as well as Mustapha Matura, Erisa Kironde, et al.;]

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Commentary
See separate file [infra].

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Quotations
See separate file [infra].

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References
Dictionary of National Biography (2nd Supplement, Vol. III), entry on J. M. Synge written by John Masefield.

Stephen Brown, in his Guide to Books on Ireland (1912), Appendix, gives an account of Frank Hugh O’Donnell’s attack on Synge in the pamphlet Souls for Gold (1899) [see also Cardinal Logue, q.v.].

D. J. Doherty & J. E. Hickey, eds., A Chronology of Irish History since 1500 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1989), cites Pearse on Synge, firstly in 1904, ‘a sinister and unholy gospel …’; later in 1913: […] one of the two or three men who have in our time made Ireland considerable in the eyes of the world.’ Note that the second quote is amplified in Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland (Cape 1996): ‘Ireland, in our day as in the past, has excommunicated some of those who have served her best […’; &c., as infra].

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, selects In the Shadow of the Glen, and The Playboy of the Western World, [629-45]; ‘Prelude’, ‘To the Oaks of Glencree’, ‘A Question’, ‘Winter’, ‘The Curse’; from Poems, ‘Abroad’, ‘In Dream’, ‘In a Dream’ from Poems and Translations (1909) [749-50]; When the Moon Has Set [898-915]. 717, BIOG [as above]. FDA3 selects Autobiography [399-405], and Aran Islands [405-06]; REFS & REMS; 2 [self-conscious virtuosity of language]; 127 [bibl. Corkery]; 131 [ed., Terence Brown: esp. drew Paddy Kavanagh’s ire, ‘His peasants are picturesque conventions; the language he invented for them did a disservice to letters in this country by drawing our attention away from the common speech whose delightfulness comes from its very ordinariness’]; 174-5 [influence on Paul Vincent Carroll]; 244 [Beckett’s kinship to Synge not obscured by his commitment to Joyce]; 380 [Synge full of subtle mutations, ed., Deane]; 422 [commemorated in Yeats’s Autobiographies, esp. The Death of Synge and Other Passages from an Old Diary, 1928]; 484 [Kavanagh, ‘Ireland, as patented by Yeats, Lady Gregory and Synge, a spiritual entity’, Self-Portrait, 1964]; 496, 548, 562, 571 [?index errs.]; 611 imagining history as a version of personality, acc. Deane, Celtic Revivals, 1985]; 613 [a Yeats hero, in ibid.]; 634-35 [David Lloyd quotes Corkery on the perpetual state of ‘expatriation’ common to Synge and the Anglo-Irish writers]; 655 [In their 1906 pamphlet Irish Plays, Yeats, Synge and Lady Gregory were quick to see Irish life as the life of the peasants, acc. Fintan O’Toole, in ‘Going West’, The Crane Bag, 1985]; 668 [Synge’s Aran Islands had a (unique government subvented) fishery industry using large trawlers from the east coast and linked to the London markets [W. J. McCormack, ed.]; 670 [Irish master of mod. ‘Brit.’ drama, Sean Golden, Crane Bag, 1979]; 686 [Horace Plunkett’s critique compared with Synge’s and Joyce’s]; 895-6 [Máirtín Ó Díreáin, ‘Omós do John Millington Synge’/’Homage to John Millington Synge’: ‘the impulse that brought you to my people …’]; 1137 [ed. essay, ‘contemporary drama 1953-86’]; 1143 [Michael J. Molly, compared]; 1312 [Lennox Robinson’s reconciliation of ‘poetry of speech’ with ‘humdrum fact’ clearly refers to Synge , acc. Kiberd, ed.]; 1314 [bridging the schism [of Irish culture] by injecting toxins of Gaelic syntax and imagery into [his] writing, acc. idem.]; 1362n [slight allusion in Kennelly’s Cromwell, ‘Reading Aloud’].

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Paul M. Levitt, J. M. Synge: A Bibliography of Published Criticism (Dublin: Irish University Press 1974), lists references to Synge in Yeats’s autobiographical and introductory writings: Autobiography of William Butler Yeats (NY: Macmillan 1938), pp.185, 266, 292-95, 322, 323, 356, 374, 375, 376, 385, 403-04, 412, 416, 417, 421, 422, 431, 432-36, 437-38, 441, 442-44, 446-48, 451, 470. The Cutting of an Agate (NY: Macmillan 1912; London: 1919), pp. 114-22, 126-29, 152-54, 168-69, 170, 171 [including ‘The Tragic Theatre’ pp. 25-35, ‘Preface to the First Edition of The Well of The Saints’, pp. 111-22, ‘Preface to the First Edition of John M. Synge’s Poems and Translations’, pp. 123-29, and ‘J. M. Synge and the Ireland of His Time’, pp. 130-76]. The Death of Synge, and Other Passages from an Old Diary (Dublin: Cuala Press 1928) [first printed as ‘The Death of Synge and Other Pages … &c.]’ in The Dial [Chicago], April 1928, pp.271-88; rep. as ‘… and Other Passages … (&c.), in The London Mercury, XVII, April 1928, pp.637-52], pp.10, 11-12, 12-13, 14-15, 15-16, 17, 18-19, 23-24, 26-28, 30-32, 33-34. Dramatis Personae, 1896-1902, Estrangement, The Death of Synge, The Bounty of Sweden (London: Macmillan 1936) , pp.34, 56, 57, 59, 69, 75, 90-91, 100, 101, 105, 106, 111, 112, 124-29, 130, 131-32, 135-36, 137-38, 141-43, 149, 171, 182, 184, 185-86, 187-88, 189; and Do . (NY: Macmillan 1936), pp.36, 60, 61, 62-63, 74, 80, 97-98, 108, 109, 113, 114, 120, 121, 133-37, 139, 140-41, 144-45, 146-47, 150-52, 157, 181 192 194-95 196-98 199. Essays (London & NY: Macmillan 1924), pp.294-96, 369-78, 379-84, 385-24, 488-89 [including ‘The Tragic Theatre’, pp. 294-96; ‘Preface to the First Edition of The Well of the Saints’, pp. 369-78; ‘Preface to the First Edition of John M. Synge’s Poems and Translations, pp.379-84; ‘J. M. Synge and the Ireland of His Time’, pp.385-424]. Essays and Introductions (New York & London: Macmillan 1961), pp.238-39, 298-05, 306-10, 311-42, 515, 527, 528, 529 [including ‘Preface to the First Edition of The Well of the Saints’, pp. 298-305; ‘Preface to the First Edition of John M. Synge’s Poems and Translations’, pp. 306-10; ‘J. M. Synge and the Ireland of His Time’, pp. 311-42]. Explorations:Selected by Mrs. W. B. Yeats (London and NY: Macmillan 1962), pp.106, 114, 137-38, 143-44, 157, 182, 183, 184, 188 192, 225-26, 226-28, 229-30, 234, 248, 249, 252, 253-54, 254-55. The Hour Glass, Cathleen Ni Houlihan, The Golden Helmet, The Irish Dramatic Movement (Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare Head Press 1908), pp.112, 120, 142, 147-48, 186, 187, 188 191-92 196, 227-28, 228-30, 231-32. . [including ‘The Controversy over The Playboy of the Western World’, pp. 227-28; ‘From Mr. Yeats’ Opening Speech in the Debate on February 4 1907, at the Abbey Theatre’, pp.228-30; and ‘On Taking The Playboy to London’, pp. 231-32]. ‘Introduction: Mr. Synge and His Plays’, in The Well of the Saints by J. M. Synge: Being Volume Four of Plays for an Irish Theatre (London: A. H. Bullen 1905). ‘J. M. Synge and the Ireland of His Time’, The Forum (New York), XLVI (August 1911), pp.179-200. Allan Wade, ed., The Letters of W. B. Yeats (NY: Macmillan 1955) [page references not listed]. Plays and Controversies (London: Macmillan 1923; NY: Macmillan 1924), pp.44, 54, 83, 84, 90-91, 120, 139-40, 141, 142, 146-47, 152 192-93 194-96 197-98, 205, 209, 210-11, 212. Synge and the Ireland of His Time by William Butler Yeats with a Note Concerning a Walk through Connemara zvith Him by Jack Butler Yeats (Churchtown, Dundrum: Cuala Press 1911). A. Norman Jeffares, ed., W. B. Yeats: Selected Criticism (London: Macmillan 1964), pp. 132, 144, 167, 185, 188, 189-90 199, 201-05, 260.

See also under ‘Biography: Books and Periodicals, pp.17-18, citing ‘J. M. Synge and the Ireland of His Time’, in The Forum, XLVI [New York] (August 1911), pp.179-200; W. B. Yeats, ‘The Death of Synge and Other Pages from an Old Diary’, in The Dial [Chicago], April 1928, pp.271-88; Do ., rep. as ‘… and Other Passages … (&c.), in The London Mercury, XVII, April 1928, pp.637-52; Do., rep. as The Death of Synge, and Other Passages from an Old Diary (Churchtown, Dundrum [Dublin]: Cuala Press 1928); ‘More Memories’, in The Dial, LXXIII [Chicago] (Sept. 1922), pp.283-302 [incl. his description of the meeting with Synge in Paris, pp.298-301], Do ., rep. in The Trembling of the Veil 1922), and in Autobiographies (1926); ‘A Poeple’s Theatre: A Letter to Lady Gregory, The Dial [Chicago], LXVIII (April 1920), pp.458-68].

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Kevin Rockett, et al., eds., Cinema & Ireland (1988), Playboy of the Western World, The, [17, 27, 111, Synge’s stage version]; [Robert Mitchum, the most glaring and crude miscasting in the role of Christy in Brian Desmond Hurst’s Playboy, 1962], 114 [co-produced by Lord Killanin] 123, n19 [IFFC investment in], 217 [‘no savagery or fine words in him at all’ - Pegeen Mike rebukes Shawn Keogh]. ALSO Riders to the Sea, 59 [Hurst made 40-min. version in 1935, funded by English star Gracie Fields, with Sara Allgood, Denis Johnston, Kevin Guthrie, Ria Mooney, and Shelah Richards], 105 [mixed reception that Riders to the Sea (1936) received dampened Abbey enthusiasm for such productions]. See also under Siobhan MacKenna, who acted Pegeen Mike. NOTE that the film was revived on 7 Jan. 1997 at IFC (Dublin).

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Helena Sheehan, Irish Television Drama, A Society and Its Stories (RTE 1987), RTE films, In the Shadow of the Glen, 91, 99, Synge/Louis Lentin (1964); John Synge Comes Next, comp. Maurice Good/Chloe Gibson; Riders to the Sea, 155, J. M. Synge/Shelah Richards (1971); The Heart’s a Wonder, Synge’s Playboy, adpt. Maureen & Nuala O’Farrell/Laurence Bourne (1978); Well of the Saints, The, 91, 92, Synge/Michael Hayes (1962).

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Maunsel & Co.: The list of Maunsel publications appended to the ‘popular edition’ of St. John Ervine, Mrs. Martin’s Man [1914] (Dublin & London: Maunsel 1915) include the following from the publishers: The Dramatic Works of J. M. Synge, in one vol., with portrait, Cloth, gilt (6s.), first issue in one vol., works of this great Irish playwright whose work has been translated into so many languages and is known all over the world. / His universal appeal so rapidly made is now assured, and this issue of his Plays in one volume at a popular price brings his principal work within the reach of all.’ Sundry critics are then cited, viz., ‘It is difficult to see any name among those of our youngest contemporaries more likely to ednure than that of Synge’ (Edmund Gosse, in the Morning Post); ‘As definite a place in literature, as enviable a place in memory, as any man of his age and day’ (Westminster Gazette); ‘His work will live, for he has accomplished in playwrighting something which had not been accomplished for centuries’ (Times Literary Supplement); ‘Indisputably among the artists of this century’ (Pall Mall Gazette); the greatest dramatist that Modern Ireland has produced’ (R. A. Scott-James, in Daily News); ‘The works of a genius’ (‘A.P.’, in Evening Standard and St. James Gazette); ‘His work had qualities which made it universal. … A new influence, strongly individual, wonderfully expressive, in its rich and glowing idiom, full of vitality and passion’ (Spectator); ‘Synge is greater than any living dramatist, and he will survive when most of our popular mediocrities have perished’ (James Douglas, The Star); ‘One of the greatest men of our time (Manchester Guardian); ‘The biggest contribution to literature made by any Irishman in our time’ (New York Sun); ‘that truly original poet and dramatist’ (Lord Dunsany, Saturday Review). [For further details of edn., see under Works, supra.]

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Libraries & Booksellers
Belfast Central Public Library holds Dramatic Works, 4 vols. (Maunsel 1915).

Hyland Catalogue, No. 219 (1995), lists Samuel Synge, Letters to my Daughter (1st end. 1931). Hyland Cat. No. 224 (Dec. 1996) lists The Playboy of the Western World (Dublin: Maunsel 1907), J. B. Yeats port., copy incl. signatures of yeats and Synge pasted on title page, with 8 autographs on reverse of port. , incl. O’Neill, Allgood, Kerrigan, Sinclair O’Rourke, and Wright of orig. cast.; Aran Island, pocket edn. (1921); In Wicklow and West Kerry [1ste edn.] (1912); In Wicklow, West Kerry, and Connemara (Maunsel 1919) [first edn. without ills.], and Do., another edn. (Aleen & Unwin 1929); Poems and Translations (Maunsel 1920); E. Coxhead, J. M. Synge and Lady Gregory (1962), ports., 35pp.

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Notes
Riders to the Sea: The celebrated last phrases of Riders to the Sea were taken from a letter of Martin McDonough, an Aran friend: ‘It happened that my brother’s wife, Shawneen, died. And she was visiting the last Sunday in December, and now isn’t it a sad story to tell? but at the same time we have to be satisfied because a person cannot live always.’ (David Greene and Edward Stephens, ‘Coole Park: Beginings of the Literary Theatre. Paris: Brittany [&] Second Visit to Aran., in J. M. Synge, 1871-1909, NY: Macmillan 1959, p.105; cited by Angela Cushley, UUC 3rd Yr Diss., p.23).

Riders to the Sea (filmed 1935; 40 mins.)

Produced in 1935 by Brian Desmond Hurst and John Flanagan (Gracie’s long time lover), ‘Riders to the Sea’ was a forty minute adaptation of the play of the same name by J.M. Synge. The film was adapted by Patrick Kirwan and featured cast from the Abbey Theatre including Sara Allgood, (whose sister Maire O’Neill had played a Blackpool landlady in ‘Sing as we Go.’) The production was funded by Gracie Fields. The film was shot in Connemara with interior shots in London. Fields attended the premier in Dublin though not mentioned in the programme.

 
See The Official Gracie Fields Site - online; accessed 06.10.2017.

 

The Tinker’s Wedding, rough-drafted 1902; orig. titled ‘The Movements of May’, later writing to the publisher Elkin Matthews, that the central scene where a priest is tied up in a sack seemed likely to displease ‘a good many of our Dublin friends’ (letter of 1905); completed, using material from Hyde’s Love Songs of Connacht, 1907; performed London 1909; not played in Dublin until 1971; revived by Druid Theatre Co. in Dublin as part of DruidSynge Project, Oct. 2004, with Gary Lydon and Nora Sheahan as the title-characters, and Marie Mullen - Druid founder with Mick Lally - as the drunken mother.

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Playboy riots (Feb. 1907) - 1: Yeats telegrammed Lady Gregory: ‘audience broke up in disorder at the word shift’, in reference to the line: ‘If all the girls in Mayo were standing before me in their shifts [alone]’.

Playboy riots (Feb. 1907) - 2: Audience reacted violently on third use of the word “shift”; the word had been used without offence in Douglas Hyde’s Love Songs of Connacht (in Irish as léine), as Synge pointed out in an interview. See Stephen Tifft, ‘The Parracidal Phantams: Irish Nationalism and the Playboy Riots’, in Nationalism and Sexualities, ed. Andrew Parker, et al., NY: Routledge, 1992, pp.313-32; Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland, Harvard UP 1996 [all cited in Gregory Castle, Modernism and the Celtic Revival, Cambridge UP 2001, p.165.]

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French trans.: A French version of The Playboy of the Western World, translated by Maurice Bourgeois was first seen at Théâtre Antoine, on 13 December 1913, being performed by Lugné-Poe’s ‘Théâtre subventionné de l’Oeuvre’, to be greeted with a mixed reception. The translation was published [with preface and notes] in Grande Revue 82 (25 Nov. 1913), pp.228-47 & Do. (10 Dec. 1913), pp.463-502. (Cited in >K. P. S. Jochum, ‘Maud Gonne on Synge’, in Éire-Ireland, 6, 4, Winter 1971, pp.65-70.)

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Rev. Mr. Synge: Synge recounts the story told him by an old man on Aran about the service done to him by his [the playwright’s] uncle, the one-time Anglican pastor on Aran who gave the boy a book in Irish when he visited the Rev. Synge in Dublin on instructions, with some other men, on their way to joining up as sailors [i.e, the British Navy]. The old man showed inordinate pride in his study and retention of Irish through the use of this book, so that Synge writes: ‘I could see all through his talk that the sense of superiority which his scholarship in this little-known language gave him above the ordinary seaman, had influenced his whole personality and been the central interest of his life.’ (The Aran Islands, Pt. III; in Collected Works, II [Prose], p.?

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James Joyce (1): Buck Mulligan [a char. based on Oliver St. John Gogarty], in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), remarks of Synge: ‘The tramper Synge is looking for you, he said, to murder you. He heard you pissed on his halldoor in Glasthule. He’s out in pampooties to murder you.’ ‘Me! Stephen exclaimed. That was your contribution to literature. […] Harsh gargoyle face that warred against me over our mess of hash of lights in rue Saint-André-des-Arts. In words of words for words, palabras. Oisin with Patrick. Faunman he met in Clamart woods, brandishing a winebottle, C’est vendredi saint! Murthering Irish. His image, wandering, he met. I mine. I met a fool i’ the forest.’ (Bodley Edn., 1963, p.256.)

Ulysses annotated: the address was 31 Croswaithe Tce., Dun Laoghaire [Glasthule], where Synge lived before moving to 15 Maxwell Rd., Rathmines, ‘but not before 10 October’ according to Don Gifford’s note on the passage (Ulysses Annotated, Notes for James Joyce’s Ulysses, Gifford with Robert J. Seidman [rev. & exp. edn.] California UP 1989, 2001, p.226 - available online; accessed 11.12.2011.)

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James Joyce (2): Joyce’s Trieste Library held copies of The Aran Islands (Dublin: Maunsel 1907) and The Playboy of the Western World (Dublin: Maunsel 1907), both purchased in Trieste; also The Shadow of the Glen and Riders to the Sea (London: Elkin Mathews 1907), The Tinker’s Wedding (Dublin: Maunsel 1907), and The Well of the Saints (Dublin: Maunsel 1907). (See Richard Ellmann, The Consciousness of James Joyce, Faber, p.129-30 [Appendix].

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Hodgkins disease: Dr. Oliver St. John Gogarty met Synge on a Dublin street in August 1907 and, seeing enlarged glands on his neck, recognised that Synge was suffering from Hodgkins disease, a diagnosis which he did not share with Synge. (See David H. Greene, ‘J. M. Synge: A Centenary Appraisal’, in Éire-Ireland, 6, 4, Winter 1971, pp.71-86; p.74.

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James Carney, The Playboy and the Yellow Lady (Dublin: Poolbeg Press 1986) [var. 1987], gives an account of the assault of land-agent James Lynchehaun, on an English landowner Agnes MacDonnell in 1894, his capture, and his escape to America; a person and event alluded to in the context of ‘agrarian’ [crime] in Lady Gregory’s Spreading the News [’sure he might give them the slip yet, the same as Lynchehaun’.

Art Mac Uidhir wrote of Synge in a review of 1910, ‘Gaedhealighe go mór … ná Eoghan Ruadh Ó Suilleabháin … Aon-fhuil do Cholum Cille agus Synge [far more Gaelic than Owen Roe O’Sullivan … Synge and Columcille are of the same blood]’.

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Arthur Griffith & The Playboy: Eward Stephens calls Griffith ‘Synge’s nemesis’ and records that Joseph Holloway, D. J. O’Donoghue, and W. J. Lawrence, ‘all huddled at the back of the auditorium on Tuesday night and concurred in hating it’ (Edward Stephens & David Greene, J. M. Synge, 1959. p.245).

Estyn Evans: Evans quotes Synge: ‘[F]rom the moment a roof is taken in hand there is a whirl of laughter and talk till it is ended, and, as the man whose house is being covered is a host instead of an employer, he lays himself out to please the men who work with him.’ (Aran Islands, p.156; Evans, Irish Folk Ways, 1957, pp.57-58.)

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Gregory Allen, ‘An Irishman’s Diary’, Irish Times (31 Jan. 1997): A William Maley killed his father Patrick Maley with a spade on 28 Jan. 1873 [1872] at Calla, in the barony of Ballinahinch, parish of Ballindoon, police sub-district of Errismore, Co. Galway; RIC papers recording the case was discovered in the barracks by Fr. John Fitzgerald, including copies of Hue & Cry for 1850 to 1890; further reports Eamonn Keane’s information that the culprit hid in a hole in the ground in Aranmore, where the inhabitants protected him until he could make his way to America he had married three years earlier. Allen also recounts the story of a parricide that Synge heard from Pat Dirane as recounted by Robin Skelton, and gives details of the 1962 film of The Playboy produced by Lord Killanin and shot in Kerry with Siobhán McKenna as Pegeen Mike and Gary Raymond as Christy Mahon.

Murder is no crime: In On Local Disturbances in Ireland, George Cornewall Lewis (1836) makes reference to the sympathy elicited by an out-of-work labourer who pretends that he has committed a murder. (See Lewis, On Local Disturbances in Ireland, by London: B. Fellowes 1836, pp.251-52, - quoted at some length in Luke Gibbons, Transformations in Irish Culture, Field Day/Cork UP 1996, p.35.)

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Irish tutors: The peasant girls from whom Synge began to learn Irish-English [i.e., Hiberno-English]] speech were Ellen, the family cook, and Florence Massey, the household maid, both raised in a Protestant orphanage.

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Edward Stephens, Synge’s nephew and biographer, was a civil servant and distinguished lawyer in the Free State, having accompanied Michael Collins to London at the time of the Treaty negotiations. He inherited the papers of his uncle J. M. Synge in 1939 and compiled a typescript of fourteen volumes amounting to 250,000 words containing minute records of the Synge family and all available biographical information about the playwright. After his death, this was made available to David Greene through the good offices of Edward’s widow Lilo, who lived on at lived at 2 Harcourt Tce. The result was the biography published in 1959, with Greene and Edwards as its co-authors. Later the typescript was edited down to 200 pages by Andrew Carpenter (My Uncle John, 197[4]). Lilo Stephens herself arranged and introduced My Wallet of Photographs (1971) and later donated the Synge archive to Trinity College, Dublin. In tanks for her assistance in securing David Greene as the first editor of his husband’s work, she gave her friend Sybil le Brocquy a holograph letter written by Synge to his mother from London in 1903. (In it he gives an account of his fellow-boarders and asks for money.) A copy of that letter is reproduced on this website - as attached.

 

League Gaelic: Synge lashed out against ‘the incoherent twaddle passed off as Irish’ by the League and its ‘wilful nationalism’. (Quoted in Robin Skelton, ed., The Writings of J. M. Synge, 1971, p.107; cited in Louis Dieltjens, ‘The Abbey Theatre as a Cultural Formation’, in History and Violence in Anglo-Irish Literature, Joris Duytschaever and Geert Lernout [Conference of 9 April 1986; Costerus Ser. Vol. 71] Amsterdam: Rodopi 1988, pp.47-65; p.48.)

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Portraits: Various portraits by John Butler Yeats: study in oil, held in the Municipal Gallery, Dublin (see Brian O’Doherty, The Irish Imagination 1959-1971 [Rosc Exhib. Cat.] , 1971; also Anne Crookshank, Irish Portraits Exhibition, Ulster Mus. 1965); a pencil drawing, signed Jan. 1905, held in the National Gallery of Ireland; p>encil sketch of Synge by J. B. Yeats “Synge at Rehearsal”. J. M. Synge, oil by James Sleator, copy in collection at Dublin Writers Museum.

1962 Film: The film was produced by Lord Killanin and shot in Kerry with Siobhán McKenna as Pegeen Mike and Gary Raymond as Christy Mahon. (See Gregory Allen in ‘Irishman’s Diary’ , Irish Times, 31 Jan. 1997; Allen recounts the story of a parricide that Synge heard from Pat Dirane as recounted by Robin Skelton.)

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DruidSynge (1) is the full-canon 8½-hour production of Synge’s plays directed by Gary Hynes for the Druid Company, with Marie Mullen and others incl. Eamon Morrissey, Aaron Mullen, et al., opening in Galway during the Theatre Fesival in July 2005 and reaching Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College in New York in July 2006 having played the Olympia (Dublin), the Edinburgh Festival and other venues incl. Inis Meán and sundry open-air settings in Ireland during the interim. The production was feted by Fintan O’Toole as one of Irish theatre’s finest achievements. Works produced were <Riders to the Sea, The Tinker’s Wedding, The Well of the Saints, In the Shadow of the Glen, The Playboy of the Western World, and Deirdre of the Sorrows. There is an article on DruidSynge in Wikipedia [online].

DruidSynge (2) David Finkle, calls the New York production ‘must-see, if decidedly uneven’: ‘[…] While the lone figure is a striking convention, it is also a giveaway to a problem that occasionally mars DruidSynge . Hynes is essentially implying that we’re witnessing something iconic; and the unwanted (and unverbalized) response from some spectators may be, “We’ll be the judges of that.”’ (See TheatreMania [online] and Finkle’s review [online].) There is a boxed set of CDs from the RTE television based on the pre-opening night production in Galway on 16 July 2005.

Steven Spielberg?: In 2009 Steven Spiellburg visited the Aran Islands for a day with his wife, Kate Capshaw, and their teenage son, staying at Ballyvaughan country holiday home before moving to the East coast. Officials dampened down rumours that the Oscar-winning director is scouting the country for a movie location. The holiday in Clare included a walk on Inis Mór where he visited the hilltop ruins at Dun Aonghas. (See Aran Islands, online; accessed 12.10.2009.)

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Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi: The press was set up by John Synge in order to print Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi’s works about his educational experiments in Yverdon. References to the press are contained in The Irish Book Lover, I, 4 (Nov. 1909), p.37. The information below was supplied to RICORSO by Marie Vergnon - with notes on her own copies. (See further details attached.)

The Pope’s Visit: 1968 the Abbey Theatre Company presented Pope John-Paul II with a rare edition of The Playboy of the Western World at the time of his visit to Ireland. (See James Kilroy, The Playboy Riots , OUP 1971, p.97.)

Old Vic: The Playboy of the Western World was revived at the Old Vic (London), drected by John Crowley, with Robert Sheehan as Christy Mahon, Ruth Negga as Pegeen Mike and Niamh Cusack as Widow Quinn with Gwendolen Chatfield, Karen Cogan, John Cormack, Drew Dillon, Christopher Doyle, Diarmuid de Faoite, James Greene, Gráinne Keenan, Frank Laverty, Gary Lydon, Bronagh Taggart and Kevin Trainor. Opening 27 Sept. 2011. (See Playbill - online.)

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