He is Eugene O’Neill, and the spot is New London, Connecticut. One of America’s finest playwrights, and a Nobel laureate in literature, O’Neill spent his summers here until 1915. His father, actor James O’Neill, took a house on Pequot Avenue, and called it Monte Cristo Cottage, a few years before Eugene was born in the late 1880s.
Much has been written of Eugene O’Neill’s troubled family—he wrote much of that himself—and there is a seriousness in the expression of the statue that indicates perhaps burdens too heavy for a child to carry, that the man will continue to shoulder the rest of his life.
Is he taking notes on his own future? He is not at play.
The statue was unveiled in 1988, some 35 years after O’Neill’s death (Monte Cristo Cottage was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971). The sculptor is Norman Legassie. The image is based on a photograph of young Eugene by Nikolas Mury.
The bronze has tarnished to green, but the compelling, enigmatic expression remains.