John Millington Synge was born in Rathfarnham, Ireland, in 1871. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he also studied piano and violin at the Royal Irish Academy.
He moved to France and while in Paris in 1896 he met William Butler Yeats. On the advice of Yeats he settled among the people of the Aran Islands (1899-1902). This experience inspired the plays In the Shadow of the Glen (1903) and the Riders to the Sea (1904).
In 1904 Synge and Yeats became joint directors of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Later plays by Synge included the highly successful The Playboy of the Western World (1907), The Tinker's Wedding (1909) and Deirdre of the Sorrows (1909).
Synge also published the books Aran Islands (1907) and Poems and Translations (1909). John Millington Synge died of Hodgkin's Disease in 1909.