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John Millington Synge

John Millington Synge

Irish playwright, poet, prose writer, and collector of folklore

Edmund John Millington Synge (/sɪŋ/; 16 April 1871 – 24 March 1909) was an Irish playwright, poet, writer, collector of folklore, and a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival. His best known play The Playboy of the Western World was poorly received, due to its bleak ending, depiction of Irish peasants, and idealisation of parricide, leading to hostile audience reactions and riots in Dublin during its opening run at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, which he had co-founded with W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. His other major works include In the Shadow of the Glen (1903), Riders to the Sea (1904), The Well of the Saints (1905), and The Tinker's Wedding (1909)

Although he came from a wealthy Anglo-Irish background, his writings mainly concern working-class Catholics in rural Ireland, and with what he saw as the essential paganism of their world view. Owing to his ill health, Synge was schooled at home. His early interest was in music, leading to a scholarship and degree at Trinity College Dublin, and he went to Germany in 1893 to study music. He abandoned this career path in 1894 with a move to Paris where he took up poetry and literary criticism and met Yeats, and then returned to Ireland.

Synge suffered from Hodgkin's disease. He died aged 37 from Hodgkin's-related cancer, while writing what became Deirdre of the Sorrows, considered by some as his masterpiece, though unfinished during his lifetime. Although he left relatively few works, they are nonetheless widely regarded as of high cultural significance.

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April 16, 1871
John Millington Synge was born.

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