Edward Albee

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Albee, Edward

(ăl`bē), 1928–2016, American playwright, one of the leading dramatists of his generation, b. Washington, D.C., as Edward Harvey. His most characteristic work constitutes an absurdist commentary on American life, often conveying psychologically probing observations concerning the American family. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962, film 1966), a Tony Award–winner that is generally regarded as his finest play and has become a classic of modern American drama, presents an all-night drinking bout in which a middle-aged professor and his wife verbally lacerate each other in brilliant colloquial language. His major early plays include The Zoo Story (1959), The Death of Bessie Smith (1960), The Sandbox (1960), The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1963, adapted from the novel by Carson McCullersMcCullers, Carson,
1917–67, American novelist, b. Columbus, Ga. as Lula Carson Smith, studied at Columbia. The central theme of her novels is the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition.
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), and Tiny Alice (1965). Albee won the Pulitzer Prize for A Delicate Balance (1966), Seascape (1975), and Three Tall Women (1991). Other later plays include The Lady from Dubuque (1980), Marriage Play (1987), The Play about the Baby (1998), the Tony Award–winning family tragicomedy The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002), Occupant, a portrait of the artist Louise NevelsonNevelson, Louise,
1900–1988, American sculptor, b. Kiev, Russia. Using odd pieces of wood, found objects, cast metal and other materials, Nevelson constructed huge walls or enclosed box arrangements of complex and rhythmic abstract shapes.
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 (2002), and the semiautobiographical Me, Myself & I (2008).


See P. C. Kolin, Conversations with Edward Albee (1987); biography by M. Gussow (1999); studies by A. Paolucci (1972), R. E. Amacher (1982), and R. H. Solomon (2010).

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Albee, Edward (Franklin III)

(1928–  ) playwright; born in Washington, D.C. Adopted as an infant by the son of the founder of the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit, Albee spent two years at college before quitting to work at odd jobs while he wrote plays. Zoo Story (1958) and The Death of Bessie Smith (1959) gained him considerable reputation. Albee's unhappy families and vision of tangled sexuality are best known to theater and movie audiences through his Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which opened in New York in 1962 and later became a film. Although he won Pulitzer Prizes for A Delicate Balance in 1966 and for Seascape in 1975, his critical and popular reputation never rose to fulfill its early promise.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.