See biographies by D. H. Greene and E. M. Stephens (1959) and D. Gerstenberger (1964); studies by D. Corkery (1931, repr. 1965), M. Bourgeois (1913, repr. 1969), W. B. Yeats (1911, repr. 1971), R. Skelton (1971), and M. C. King (1985).
(born April 16, 1871, Rathfarnham, near Dublin, Ire.—died March 24, 1909, Dublin) Irish playwright. After studying languages and music in Dublin and France, he met William Butler Yeats, who advised Synge to go to the west coast of Ireland to draw material from life. From 1899 to 1902 he spent his summers on the Aran Islands, observing the people and learning their language; he based his first plays, In the Shadow of the Glen (1903) and Riders to the Sea (1904), on islanders' stories. His travels on the Irish west coast inspired his most famous play, The Playboy of the Western World (1907); its unsentimental treatment of Irish character traits caused riots at its opening at the Abbey Theatre. His unfinished Deirdre of the Sorrows was performed in 1910. A poetic dramatist of great power, he was a leading figure of the Irish literary renaissance.
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