EDWARD ALBEE Biography - Writers


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Edward Albee                                                                             
Born March 12, 1928 (age 79)                                                             
Washington D.C.                                                                           
Occupation dramatist                                                                     
Nationality American                                                                     
Writing period 1958 - present                                                             
Edward Franklin Albee III (born March 12, 1928) is an American playwright known           
for works including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Zoo Story, The Sandbox           
and The American Dream. His works are considered well-crafted and often                   
unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a             
mastery and Americanization of the Theatre of the Absurd that found its peak in           
works by European playwrights such as Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, and Eugène             
Ionesco. Younger American playwrights, such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel,         
credit Albee's daring mix of theatricalism and biting dialogue with helping to           
reinvent the post-war American theatre in the early 1960s. Albee's dedication to         
continuing to evolve his voice — as evidenced in later productions such as The         
Goat or Who is Sylvia (2000) also routinely marks him as distinct from other             
American playwrights of his era.                                                         
Edward Albee was born in Washington, D.C. and was adopted two weeks later and             
taken to Westchester County, New York. Albee's adoptive father, Reed A. Albee,           
himself the son of vaudeville magnate Edward Franklin Albee II, owned several             
theatres, where Edward first gained familiarity with the theatre as a child. His         
adoptive mother was Reed's third wife, Frances. Albee left home when he was in           
his late teens, later saying in an interview, "They weren't very good at being           
parents, and I wasn't very good at being a son." He attended the Rye Country Day         
School, then the Lawrenceville School, where he was expelled. He attended Valley         
Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania in 1943 and graduated in 1945 at           
the age of 17. He studied at Choate Rosemary Hall and graduated in 1946, then             
attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut for a year and a half before           
being expelled for skipping classes and refusing to attend compulsory chapel in           
1947. Perhaps ironically, the less than diligent student later dedicated much of         
his time to promoting American university theatre, frequently speaking at                 
campuses and serving as a distinguished professor at the University of Houston           
from 1989 to 2003.                                                                       
A member of the Dramatists Guild Council, Albee has received three Pulitzer               
Prizes for drama — for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975), Three Tall           
Women (1994); a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement (2005); the Gold             
Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1980);       
as well as the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts (both in             
Albee is the President of the Edward F. Albee Foundation, Inc., which maintains           
the William Flanagan Creative Persons Center, a writers and artists colony in             
Montauk, New York. Albee's longtime partner, Jonathan Thomas, a sculptor, died           
on May 2, 2005, the result of a two year-long battle with bladder cancer.                 
In 2008, in celebration of his eightieth birthday, numerous Albee plays are               
being mounted in distinguished Off Broadway venues, including the historic               
Cherry Lane Theatre, where the playwright himself is directing two of his one-acts,       
The American Dream and The Sandbox, which were produced at the theater in 1961           
and 1962, respectively.