Edward Albee Biography
There has been no official biography of Edward Albee and, therefore, such knowledge as is available to the reader might be subject to some distortions of fact. Edward Albee was born on March 12, 1928, in Washington, D.C. At the present time, his biological parentage is not public. He was adopted by very wealthy parents when he was two weeks old, and he carries the name of his adopted grandfather, Edward Franklin Albee, who was, among other things, part-owner of a chain of theaters. This fact, however, seemingly has little relation to Albee's later theatrical career even though, as a child, Albee often found himself in the presence of prominent theater people.
Albee showed an interest in creative endeavors very early in life. His first attempts were with poetry, and by the time he was twelve, he had written his first play, a three-act farce called Aliqueen. Since his wealthy parents summered and wintered in different places, Albee's education was, to say the least, erratic. He was dismissed from one prep school (Lawrenceville School) when he was fifteen, was sent to Valley Forge Military Academy, and subsequently dismissed from there and graduated from Choate School. While at the latter, he submitted and had his first poem published in a Texas literary magazine (Kaleidoscope) and also his first one-act play was published in the Choate Literary Magazine.
While in Trinity College briefly, he became familiar with another side of the theater when he acted in a Maxwell Anderson play. Leaving college in 1947, Albee moved to Greenwich Village, NY, and occupied himself with a variety of odd jobs even though he was reportedly the weekly recipient of a trust fund. He shared an apartment with a composer and through him met many people in the music world. He also wrote for a radio station. His other odd jobs included being a waiter, bartender, salesman, and a Western Union delivery messenger.
In 1958, just before his thirtieth birthday, Albee finished The Zoo Story, the long one-act drama that would launch him on his career. After sending it to various theatrical producers in New York, a friend sent it to an acquaintance in Europe and it was finally produced in Berlin on September 28, 1959. After being a success there and being staged in numerous other cities in Germany, it was then presented in New York at the Off-Broadway Provincetown Playhouse in 1960. Albee attracted quite a bit of critical success with this play but not much popular success. Then in 1962, he achieved both critical and popular success with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The play won the coveted New York Drama Critics Award and every other major award except the Pulitzer Prize, and it was made into a very successful motion picture with slight, but sometimes important, changes from the dramatic script.
Although Albee has continued to write significant drama (A Delicate Balance in 1966 won the Pulitzer Prize), none of his later plays have won the critical and popular acclaim awarded to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?