LGBTQ History

LGBT History Month profile: Playwright Edward Albee

LGBT History Month profile: Playwright Edward Albee

Edward Albee, Playwright
b. March 12, 1928

“I think we should all live on the precipice of life, as fully and as dangerously as possible.”

Edward Albee is a celebrated playwright who won three Pulitzer Prizes and three Tony Awards.

Edward Albee
Edward Albee

“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” his first Broadway play, helped establish Albee as one of America’s greatest playwrights.

Born Edward Harvey in Washington D.C., he was adopted as an infant by the prominent Albee family of New York. The family’s ownership of a national theater chain nurtured Albee’s passion for the arts.

Albee and his parents were constantly at odds over his desire to pursue a career in theater. After failing out of two private schools, he graduated high school and matriculated to Trinity College.

In 1949, Albee dropped out of Trinity to pursue a career in writing. He moved to Greenwich Village, an artistic epicenter. Albee experimented with writing poetry and short fiction before finding a niche in playwriting.

Albee’s early Off-Broadway shows received praise for their unconventional themes, including homoeroticism. He made his Broadway debut with “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” which earned Albee his first Tony Award.

Albee has written more than 25 plays. His willingness to experiment with various styles earned him Pulitzer Prizes for “A Delicate Balance,” “Seascape” and “Three Tall Women.” He received two additional Tony Awards for “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” and a revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Since moving to Greenwich Village, he has lived an openly gay life. Recognized for pioneering the depiction of homosexuality on stage, Albee weaves same-sex relationships throughout his work.

He lived for 35 years with Jonathan Winters, his partner, until Winters’s death in 2005. Albee received a Special Tony Lifetime Achievement Award and The Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award for exceptional accomplishment in the arts.

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