The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog

By Mark Andersen, January 2019

The death of a beloved dog is a heavy emotional loss. In 1940, American playwright Eugene O’Neill faced that very thing when his faithful old Dalmatian, Blemie (short for Silverdine Emblem O’Neill), came to the end of his life. To comfort both himself and his wife, Carlotta, in their grief, he composed a bittersweet essay of remembrances in the form of a last will and testament. In the essay, O’Neill adopted Blemie’s point of view, imagining his thoughts during his final days. In it, Blemie considers the approaching eventuality with quiet dignity, and worries about the effect on his loving master and mistress. As a lesson in life and its conclusion, his words are a balm for any reader’s grief.

Illustrator and designer Mark Andresen began drawing dogs while recovering from eye surgery, filling his sketchbooks with studies of canines in all their sizes, shapes and moods. With the agreement of the O’Neill Literary Estate and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, he incorporated some of that work in this new edition of the playwright’s classic prose poem. Published by Gingko Press, the slim volume is dedicated to O’Neill and Blemie.

The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog by Eugene O'Neill, Mark Andresen (Illustrator)