Who's Afraid of Edward Albee?

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Who's Afraid of Edward Albee? Edward Albee was considered the chief playwright of the Theater of the Absurd when his first successful one-act experimental plays emerged. The Zoo Story, The Death of Bessie Smith, The Sandbox, and Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung were all released during Albee's thirties between 1959 and 1968 (Artists 1-2). Edward Albee was born in the nation's capitol on March 12, 1928, and his career has brought him three Pulitzer Prizes over four decades, the first for A Delicate Balance in 1966 and the most recent in 1994 for Three Tall Women. While Albee's original works established him as a leading voice in America's Theater of the Absurd, his more mature plays were representative of traditional playwrights like Eugene O'Neill and August Strindberg. Unlike many successful writers, the childhood of Albee was not one of deprivation. On the contrary, Albee was adopted at the age of two weeks by a millionaire family. From that point on he knew a life of wealth and privilege. He resided with his family in Westchester, New York. His childhood experience was quite remote from that of many writers who knew squalor and deprivation. As one magazine article said regarding his childhood years, "It was a time of servants, tutors, riding lessons, winters in Miami, summers sailing on the Sound: there was a Rolls Royce to bring him, smuggled in lap robes, to matinees in the city; an inexhaustible wardrobe housed in a closet as big as a room. Albee has never made any explicit comments about the happiness of his childhood. His father was believed, however, to be dominated by his wife, who was considerably younger than her husband and an avid athlete" (Biography 1). His grandfather was one of the major figures in the development of the razzmatazz of American show-business and the owner of a famous chain of vaudeville theaters. Albee was named after him and this lineage gave him a great deal of exposure to plays and theater people at a young age. Albee was not very adept at schoolwork though he showed promise as a writer from a young age. He dropped out of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, after a year and a half to pursue a writing career full time in New York. However, while at Trinity, Albee did gain theater experience by playing a variety of characters in plays produced by the college drama department.
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