Edward Albee Biography


Edward Albee was born on March 12, 1928, in Washington, D.C. He was adopted by very wealthy parents when he was two weeks old and was named after his adopted grandfather, Edward Franklin Albee, who was 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.

By the time he was twelve, Albee had written his first play, a three-act farce called Aliqueen. Because his parents summered and wintered in different places, Albee's education was 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. 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 had a variety of odd jobs even though he was reportedly had 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 launched him on his professional 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 performed in New York at the Off-Broadway Provincetown Playhouse in 1960. Albee attracted quite a bit of critical success with the play but not much popular success.

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 continued to write significant drama (A Delicate Balance in 1966 won the Pulitzer Prize), none of his later plays received the critical and popular acclaim of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Albee died on September 16, 2016.