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Edward Albee | Biography


Edward Albee was born as Edward Harvey on March 12, 1928, in Washington, D.C. When not even three weeks old, he was adopted by Reed and Francis Albee and renamed.

Albee was raised amid great privilege, as his adoptive parents had made a fortune from movies and vaudeville (a type of live theater performance made up of many acts, like a talent show). But young Edward never fit with his adoptive parents: they were conservative; he was liberal. They wanted him to pursue a career in business, and he wanted to be a writer, which they considered far too risky a way to make a living. In an interview later in life, Albee explained his feelings of failure and the difficulty he had connecting with his family:

I never felt comfortable with the adoptive parents. I don't think they knew how to be parents. I probably didn't know how to be a son, either.

School only added to Albee's sense of failure: after flunking out of the local high school, Albee was sent to Lawrenceville School in Pennsylvania, where he was expelled. Albee's parents next sent him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he didn't last a year. Then came the Choate School in Connecticut, where he finally graduated in 1946. Albee then enrolled in Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, but was expelled a year later for cutting classes and refusing to attend mandatory religious services.

Albee decided to pursue his goal of becoming a playwright and moved to New York City. There, he started teaching himself how to write for the theater, supporting himself through odd jobs and assistance from wealthy patrons. Albee had his first success in 1959, when his play The Zoo Story was staged in Germany. Worldwide recognition followed, although Albee's work is often appreciated more in Europe than in the United States.

In 1967 Albee set up the Edward F. Albee Foundation, which supports a residence in Montauk, Long Island, where artists and writers can work. In addition to writing, Albee worked as a professor at colleges including the University of Houston in Texas. He died at his home in Montauk, New York, on September 16, 2016.

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