|Birth: ||Apr. 16, 1871|
|Death: ||Mar. 24, 1909|
Educated privately and at Trinity College Dublin, where he won prizes in Irish and Hebrew. As a boy he showed an absorbing interest in nature and roamed the Dublin mountains and Wicklow glens. He studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music while still an undergraduate and became proficient on the piano, flute, and violin. Deciding to become a musician, he went to Germany in 1893 for further study but after two years turned to literature and settled in Paris, making occasional trips to Ireland, including a visit to the Aran Islands.
In Paris he met W B Yeats, who advised him to return to the Aran Islands and write about the way of life there. Synge spent the late summers of 1899–1902 on the islands, sharing the isolated life, playing his fiddle, and listening to the talk and stories around the firesides at night. He began a book, The Aran Islands, which found a publisher in 1907 and was illustrated by Jack Yeats.
Meanwhile he wrote two plays for the newly founded Irish National Theatre, both based on stories he had heard on Aran. The Shadow of the Glen was produced in 1903 and Riders to the Sea the following year. At home they were received with hostility; English critics welcomed them and perceived a new and vitalising force in Synge’s use of the speech of fishermen and country people.
When the Abbey Theatre opened on 27 December 1904 Synge became literary adviser and later a director with Yeats and Lady Gregory. The Well of the Saints was produced there in 1905. His great comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, now a classic, caused a riot on its first Abbey production in 1907; its ironic laughter and underlying note of tragedy seemed equally abhorrent to the Dublin audiences. Undeterred, Yeats put on The Tinker’s Wedding the same year.
His last and unfinished play, Deirdre of the Sorrows, was said to have been inspired by his love for Molly Allgood, who played Pegeen Mike in The Playboy. His health was never robust and he died in Dublin at the age of 37.
(bio by: Frank Duffin)
Peter Snyder (1796 - 1859)
Search Amazon for John Millington Synge
Mount Jerome Cemetery and Crematorium
County Dublin, Ireland
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
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