Aug 16, 2013
11:37 AMArts & Entertainment
Eugene O'Neill's Boxer Shorts for Sale at a Connecticut Bookshop
Courtesy of Dan Dwyer/Johnnycake Books
A closeup of a pair of Eugene O'Neill's blue cotton boxers, showing the E.O'N. monogram.
(page 1 of 2)
There’s at least one obscure literary link between Litchfield County, Conn., and Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill’s “dirty laundry,” but who knew that some of his actual laundry—a pair of blue boxer shorts—would end up being for sale as a collector’s item in one of Connecticut’s best antiquarian bookshops.
At Dan Dwyer’s Johnnycake Books in Salisbury, not only can you pick up a 1982 edition of O’Neill’s famous play “The Iceman Cometh,” with drawings by Leonard Baskin ($150), or what they call in the trade “reading copies” of “Lazarus Laughed” and “Marco Millions," but you can also go home with an original pair of the playwright’s premium- grade cotton underwear.
That literary snippet was revealed to the world this week in a fun little Daily News blog post by Margaret Eby.
Reached by phone after he had emailed his friends and clients a link to the post, Dwyer recounted how he “acquired them from a book collector who bought them from a retired pair of booksellers in the Boston area.”
As this plot goes, the O’Neill family had summer place in Marblehead, Mass., and when the heirs to the estate finally sold it as a White Elephant, folks in the trade were called in to remove and sell the contents, which, Dwyer says, included a fine summer house library.
The Boston-area booksellers were among that group and acquired two pairs of the boxers. One they kept and another they sold to a book collector, and it’s from that person Dwyer acquired the boxers—so the chain of provenance on the underwear with the E. O’N. monogram is pretty solid.
An O’Neill fan—he saw “Strange Interlude” in London a couple of weeks ago—Dwyer is thrilled to have an unusual literary collector’s item, which, according to the Daily News, is displayed with a card pronouncing the underwear “A Longjohn’s Journey Into Night.”
As a conversation piece to go with a vintage copy of an O’Neill play, the size 34 boxers can be yours for $1,750.
Meanwhile, another connection between Litchfield County and the writer often deemed America’s greatest playwright is an unseemly bit of history from the annals of O’Neill’s relationship woes.