Until Eugene O'Neill began writing dramas in the early decades of the twentieth century, American plays had consisted largely of forgettable comedies and melodramas. O'Neill broke radically with that tradition and, through his probing into the human condition, became the first American dramatist to achieve recognition as a writer of lasting importance. The product of a troubled family, O'Neill lived a vagabond existence as young man before taking up writing in his mid-twenties. His first triumph came in 1920, when his play Beyond the Horizon earned the Pulitzer Prize. A string of compelling works followed in rapid succession, including Anna Christie and Strange Interlude (also Pulitzer Prize winners), Desire Under the Elms, and Ah Wilderness! O'Neill's most enduring achievements would prove to be the plays he crafted toward the end of his life, among them The Iceman Cometh and Long Day's Journey into Night.