Eugene Ionesco Playwright Timeline

  • The Birth of A King

    The Birth of A King
    Born Eugene Ionesco in Slatina, Romania to Eugene Ionesco Sr. (a Romanian Lawyer) and Marie-Thérèse Ipcar (Daughter of a French Lutheran engineer, who came to work in Romania). He was the oldest, following his sister.
  • Family Relocation to France

    Family Relocation to France
    Ionesco's Family moved to France when he was only 4 years old.
  • Ionesco's Return to Romania

    Ionesco's Return to Romania
    In 1924 when Eugene's parents divorced, he returned with his father to Romania.
  • Ionesco's Mother Death

    Ionesco's Mother Death
    Eugene Ionesco's mother, Thérèse Ionesco, died on January 1, 1925.
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    Attended University of Bucharest

    Ionesco was taken to France as an infant but returned to Romania in 1925. After obtaining a degree in French at the University of Bucharest, he worked for a doctorate in Paris (1939), where, after 1945, he made his home.
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    Ionesco's Marriage

    His first marriage was to Rodica Burileanu, a Romanian student he met while studying at the University of Bucharest. They got married in 1936 but the marriage was short-lived and they divorced in 1941.
  • World War II Impact

    World War II Impact
    World War II: Ionesco lived through World War II, and the trauma and devastation of the war may have influenced his writing. Many of his plays explore themes of violence, war, and the dehumanization of individuals in oppressive regimes.
  • Relocation to Marseilles

    Relocation to Marseilles
    Eugene Ionesco relocates to Marseilles when the Germans invade.
  • Eugene Ionesco's Daughter

    Eugene Ionesco's Daughter
    Ionesco's daughter Marie-France is born. He will later write a number of unconventional children's stories for her.
  • Ionesco's Arrival

    Ionesco's Arrival
    After Paris is liberated from the Germans, Ionesco returns to Paris.
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    Ionesco's Second Marriage

    After his divorce, Ionesco moved to France where he met his second wife, Rodica Ionesco (formerly Rodica Burileanu's friend). They got married in 1946 and had a daughter named Marie-France. However, their marriage was also tumultuous, and they separated in 1962, eventually divorcing in 1966.
  • Cold War Impact

    Cold War Impact
    The Cold War: Ionesco lived through the height of the Cold War, and the tension and paranoia of the era may have influenced his writing. Many of his plays explore the fear and anxiety of living in a world threatened by nuclear war and political instability.
  • Inspiration

    Ionesco attends the premiere of Jean-Paul Sartre's play "Les Mouches," which inspires him to begin writing plays of his own.
  • Health Issues

    In 1950, Ionesco was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a bacterial infection that affects the lungs. He was hospitalized for several months, and during this time, he began to write his first play, "The Bald Soprano."
  • Premiere of The Bald Soprano

    Premiere of The Bald Soprano
    The Bald Soprano translated from the French, is Eugène Ionesco's absurdist play about the nature of human communication. The Bald Soprano first premiered in 1950 to moderate acclaim before becoming a mainstay at the Thèâtre de la Huchette.
  • Premiere of The Lesson

    Premiere of The Lesson
    After another year, Ionesco premieres his second work of art, The Lesson which premieres at the Théâtre de Poche.
  • Premiere of the The Chairs

    Premiere of the The Chairs
    First performed in Paris on April 22, 1952, The Chairs was only the third of Ionesco's plays to be produced. At the time, Ionesco was still a struggling playwright.
  • Civil Rights Movement Impact

    Civil Rights Movement Impact
    The Civil Rights Movement in the United States: Ionesco was a citizen of the world and was likely aware of the civil rights movement that was happening in the United States during the 1960s. The struggle for racial equality and social justice may have influenced his plays and the themes of oppression and resistance that he explores.
  • Premiere of Jack or The Submission

    The premiere of "Jack, or The Submission" by Eugene Ionesco, at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris. The play is a satirical exploration of power dynamics and conformity, centering on a character named Jack who is forced to submit to the will of those in authority.
  • Tours Festival Prize

    Tours Festival Prize
    The award recognized his contributions to the world of theatre and his pioneering work in the Theater of the Absurd movement. Ionesco's plays, including "The Bald Soprano" and "Rhinoceros," challenged traditional notions of narrative structure and language, using surreal and absurd elements to critique society and human behavior. The Tours Festival Prize further cemented Ionesco's place as a major figure in 20th-century theatre, and his works continue to be studied and performed around the world
  • Premier of The Killer

    Premier of The Killer
    The Killer premieres at the Théâtre Récamier in Paris. The play explores themes of power, violence, and manipulation, as a lone assassin is convinced by a group of strangers to commit a murder. The premiere was met with controversy and mixed reviews, Despite the initial reception, "The Killer" went on to become one of Ionesco's most famous and frequently performed works, and it continues to be studied and analyzed for its commentary on human nature and societal corruption.
  • Premier of Rhinoceros

    Premier of Rhinoceros
    Rhinoceros premieres at the Odéon under the direction of Jean-Louis Barrault. The play is a satire on conformity and the rise of fascism. The premiere was a critical and commercial success, and the play has since become one of Ionesco's most famous and frequently performed works. "Rhinoceros" continues to be studied and analyzed for its commentary on the dangers of herd mentality and the erosion of individualism in modern society.
  • Eugene's Published Collection

    Eugene's Published Collection
    Eugene Ionesco's "Notes and Counter-Notes" is a collection of essays and lectures on theatre and society, In the book, Ionesco reflects on the state of theatre in the modern world, criticizing what he sees as a decline in artistic standards and a trend towards conformity and commercialism. He also explores broader cultural and philosophical issues, including the nature of reality, the role of the artist in society, and the dangers of totalitarianism
  • Premier of Exit The King

    Premier of Exit The King
    The play is a dark comedy about the last hours of a king who is facing his own mortality and the end of his reign. The premiere was a critical and commercial success, and the play has since become one of Ionesco's most famous and frequently performed works. "Exit the King" is known for its blend of absurdist humor and existential themes.
  • Health Issues

    In 1963, Ionesco suffered a heart attack, which forced him to slow down his work pace. Despite this setback, he continued to write and produced several successful plays, including "Rhinoceros" and "Exit the King."
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    Recognition of Eugene Ionesco

    In 1963, he was awarded the Grand Prix National des Lettres, one of the highest honors for French writers. In 1964, he received the International Writer's Prize from the Heinrich Heine Society in Germany. In 1966, he was elected to the Académie française, a prestigious institution that promotes the French language and literature. In 1970, he received the Jerusalem Prize for his contribution to the freedom of the individual in society. These awards recognized Ionesco's significant contributions.
  • French Academy

    French Academy
    In 1970, Eugene Ionesco was elected to the Académie française, one of the most prestigious institutions in French culture. The Académie française is responsible for regulating and preserving the French language, as well as promoting French literature and culture. As a member of the Académie française, Ionesco joined the ranks of some of the most celebrated writers and thinkers in French history, including Victor Hugo, Voltaire, and Jean-Paul Sartre.
  • Premier of Macbett

    Premier of Macbett
    Théâtre de la Rive Gauche in Paris. The play is a satirical take on Shakespeare's "Macbeth," blending elements of absurdism and political commentary. The premiere was met with mixed reviews, with some critics praising the play's inventiveness and others finding it too confusing and disjointed. Despite the initial reception, "Macbett" has since become one of Ionesco's most frequently performed works, known for its dark humor and sharp critique of authoritarianism and political power.
  • The Last Award

    The Last Award
    Max Reinhardt Medal at the 50th Salzburg Festival. Eugene Ionesco received the Max Reinhardt Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the world of theatre. The award is named after Max Reinhardt, a prominent theatre director and producer of the early 20th century, and is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the art of theatre. Ionesco was recognized for his innovative approach to theatre and his contributions to the development of the Theatre of Absurdism.
  • The Death of A King

    The Death of A King
    Eugene Ionesco dies at the age of 84 in his home, the cause of death was not disclosed, but it was reported that he had arthrosis, a degenerative disease of the joints.