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John Millington Synge (April 16, 1871 - March 24, 1909) was an Irish writer, best known for the play Playboy of the Western World.
Synge was born Rathfarnham, County Dublin. He received his degree from Trinity College, Dublin, then went to Germany to study music. He then travelled on foot through Germany, Italy and France and then went to Paris, where he lived for several years writing literary criticism. Here, in 1899, he met a compatriot, William Butler Yeats, who persuaded Synge to live for a while in the Aran Islands and then return to Dublin and devote himself to creative work. The Aran Islands (1907) is the journal of Synge's retreat. His subsequent work reflected the bleak and tragic lives of Irish peasants and fisherfolk.
The plays on which his fame rests were written in the last six years of his life. The first two one-act plays, In the Shadow of the Glen, (1903), a comedy, and Riders to the Sea (1904), were produced by the Irish National Theatre Society. This group, with Synge, Yeats and Lady Gregory as co-directors, organized in 1904 the Abbey Theatre. Two comedies, The Well of the Saints (1905) and The Playboy of the Western World (1907), were presented by the Abbey players. The latter play created an uproar among Irish patriots stung by Synge's bitter humor.
Synge's later works included The Tinker's Wedding, published in 1908 but not produced for fear of further riots, and Deirdre of the Sorrows, a tragedy unfinished at the time of his death but presented by the Abbey players in 1910.