While In Paris, Synge carried
out a true bohemian life, became integrated into the literary circle and
thus was familiarized with both the anarchistic and socialist theories. He
was also interested in the literary movements of avant-gardes Maeterlink and
Mallarmé in the medieval theatre, Molière and the playwrights of his time,
and in particular Ibsen, the author of the Ghosts and Doll's house.
It was in 1896 that Synge met
Yeats in Paris. Two years later, he undertook the first of a series of
voyages which would mark affect him deeply: each year, from 1898 to 1902, he
visited the Islands of Aran (three small barely inhabited islands off the
West coast of Ireland) and Mayo county where he wrote The Playboy of the
In 1901, Synge wrote a first
part, When the Moon Has Set, but it was turned down by the Irish Literary
Theatre. Then, in the following year, he wrote two tragedies: Riders to the
Sea and In the Shadow of the Glen. In 1903, he again returned to Ireland
where he wrote Riders to the Sea. It played in Dublin in 1904 and then in
This same year, Synge finished
The Tinker's Wedding but because of its anticlericalism, this play would not
be staged in Ireland until 1971.
In 1905, his play The Well of
the Saints was staged in the Abbey Theatre. Synge was a co-director along
with William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory.
Synges reputation grew and his
plays wre translated and published abroad. On January 26, 1907, the first
of his masterpieces, The Playboy of the Western World, started a riot as the
strength of the language and the behavior of the characters shocked the
That same year, Synge published his final work, The Aran Island, with
splendid prose devoted to the small archipelago and to its population.
Racked with cancer, he died in 1909 at the age of 38. His last play, Deirdre
of Sorrows, which wrote on his deathbed, was staged in Abbey the following
year. It was renowned for its extraordinary direction of language and its
talent to combine realism.
In later years, Synge was recognized by the Irish Government with the
issuance of a commemorative postage stamp bearing his likeness.