Samuel Beckett


1906

April 13: Samuel Barclay Beckett is born near Dublin, Ireland. Middle class and Protestant, his father was a quantity surveyor and his mother was a nurse. Looking back on his childhood, he once remarked, "I had little talent for happiness."

1919

SB is sent off to the Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh -- the same school Oscar Wilde attended.

1923

SB begins his studies at Trinity College, Dublin.

1927

SB graduates from Trinity College, Dublin, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French, Italian, and English.

1928

SB moves to Paris.

1929

Meets James Joyce, whom he will later serve as a research assistant/amanuensis. He helps Joyce research what later becomes Finnegan's Wake.

Publishes his first work, a critical essay defending Joyce's writings.

1930

Returns to Trinity College as a lecturer.

"Whoroscope" wins first place in a competition for a poem about time.

1931

SB earns a Master of Arts degree from Trinity College.

He publishes Proust, a collection of essays.

1934

SB publishes his first novel, More Pricks than Kicks.

1937

SB has a brief affair with the art collector Peggy Guggenheim.

1938

SB publishes his second novel, Murphy.

He is hospitalized after being stabbed in the street by a man who approaches him asking for money.

1940

Unhappy with the German occupation of his adopted homeland, SB joins the French Resistance.

1942

Several members of SB's underground resistance group are arrested by the Gestapo, and he is forced to flee to the unoccupied zone.

1945

SB returns to Paris.

Awarded the Croix de guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance by the French government for his efforts in fighting the German occupation. To the end of his life, B refers to his work with the French Resistance as "boy scout stuff."

1951

SB publishes two more novels, Molloy and Malone Dies.

1953

5 January: Waiting for Godot premieres at the Théâtre de Babylone in Paris. The "strange little play in which nothing happens" enjoys a run of 400 performances.

He publishes two more novels, Watt and The Unnamable.

1957

3 April: Endgame premieres at the Royal Court Theatre in London under the direction of Roger Blin. The play is well received and secures Beckett's position as a master dramatist.

19 November: A company of actors from the San Francisco Actor's Workshop present Waiting for Godot at the San Quentin penitentiary for an audience of over fourteen hundred convicts. The production is a great success.

1958

28 October: Krapp's Last Tape premieres at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

1961

SB publishes How It Is, his last full-length prose work.

25 March: In a secret civil ceremony, SB marries Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil.

1969

10 December: SB is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He refuses to attend the ceremony.

1973

16 January: Not I premieres at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

1976

20 May: That Time and Footfalls premiere at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

1979

SB publishes Company, a novella.

1981

Ohio Impromptu premieres at Ohio State University.

1982

SB publishes another novella, Ill Seen, Ill Said.

Catastrophe, written for Vaclav Havel, is performed at the Avignon Festival.

1983

15 June: What Where premieres at the Harold Clurman Theatre in New York.

1984

SB is elected Saoi of Aosdána. Saoi is the highest honor that members of Aosdána (an organization of people in Ireland who have achieved distinction in the arts) can bestow upon a fellow member. No more than seven living members can be so honored at one time

He publishes his final novella, Worstword Ho.

1989

17 July: SB's wife Suzanne dies.

22 December: SB dies at the age of 83. Although he continues to write until his death, he says, in the end, that each word seems "an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness."

 

Yes, in my life, since we must call it so, there were three things, the inability to speak, the inability to be silent, and solitude, that’s what I’ve had to make the best of.