The Leonard L. Milberg Irish Theater Collection has been given in honor of Paul Muldoon, the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities and Chair of the new University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. The collection of Irish Theater is the fourth major book collection that Milberg has acquired and donated to Firestone Library. Milberg developed this collection to match the strengths of Princeton’s holdings, and it expands on the earlier Milberg Collection of Irish Poetry. Currently, the collection includes the work of 82 Irish playwrights and 10 Irish theater companies and numbers well over 1,000 items. The complete list of playwrights and theaters is listed below. Several major twentieth-century Irish playwrights were not included in this collection, such as George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and W. B. Yeats, because the Princeton Library already has extensive holdings.
The Collection of Irish Theater begins in the mid-nineteenth century with Dion Boucicault (1820-1890). Boucicault’s first great success, London Assurance, opened to acclaim at the Covent Garden Theatre, London, on 4 March 1841, and ran for 69 nights, a very long run in those days. Continuing through the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the collection offers extensive holdings of the works of Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932) and John Millington Synge (1821-1909), who, with W. B. Yeats, founded the Abbey Theatre in 1904. The turbulence of the Irish political situation in the twentieth century can be traced in the plays of Sean O’Casey (1880-1964) from the 1920s all the way through to present-day works by Gary Mitchell, Connall Morrison, and Graham Reid. Along with well-established playwrights like Brian Friel, Frank McGuinness, and Tom Murphy, the collection includes younger writers like Marina Carr, Martin McDonagh, and Conor McPherson, whose latest works are exciting and challenging audiences today.
This collection will be kept alive, as are the other Milberg Collections, and new playwrights will be added as they come on the scene.
To search individual titles, go to Princeton University Library’s main catalogue at https://catalog.princeton.edu.