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Edward Albee & Jonathan Thomas

Edward Franklin Albee III (born March 12, 1928) is an American playwright who is best known for The Zoo Story (1958), The Sandbox (1959), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), and a rewrite of the book for the unsuccessful musical version of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's (1966). His works are considered well-crafted, often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery and Americanization of the Theatre of the Absurd that found its peak in works by European playwrights such as Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett, and Eugène Ionesco. Younger American playwrights, such as Paula Vogel, credit Albee's daring mix of theatricalism and biting dialogue with helping to reinvent the post-war American theatre in the early 1960s. Albee continues to experiment in new works, such as The Goat: or, Who Is Sylvia? (2002). (Picture: Edward Albee, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1961)

According to Magill's Survey of American Literature (2007), Edward Albee was born somewhere in Virginia (the popular belief is that he was born in Washington, D.C.). He was adopted two weeks later and taken to Larchmont, New York in Westchester County, where he grew up. Albee's adoptive father, Reed A. Albee, the wealthy son of vaudeville magnate Edward Franklin Albee II, owned several theaters. Here the young Edward first gained familiarity with the theatre as a child. His adoptive mother, Reed's third wife, Frances tried to raise Albee to fit into their social circles.

Albee attended the Clinton High School, then the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, from which he was expelled. He then was sent to Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania, where he was dismissed in less than a year. He enrolled at The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut, graduating in 1946. His formal education continued at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was expelled in 1947 for skipping classes and refusing to attend compulsory chapel. In response to his expulsion, Albee's play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is believed to be based on his experiences at Trinity College.


Edward Albee is an American playwright who is best known for The Zoo Story, The Sandbox, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and a rewrite of the book for the musical version of Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. Albee's longtime partner, Jonathan Thomas, a sculptor, died on May 2, 2005, from bladder cancer. Albee was a heavy drinker, but the problem became particularly acute in the early 70s. He stopped with the help of Jonathan Thomas, with whom he has been with since 1971 "I'd be dead without him"

Albee left home for good when he was in his late teens. In a later interview, he said: "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." More recently, he told interviewer Charlie Rose that he was "thrown out" because his parents wanted him to become a "corporate thug" and didn't approve of his aspirations to become a writer.

Albee moved into New York's Greenwich Village, where he supported himself with odd jobs while learning to write plays. His first play, The Zoo Story, was first staged in Berlin. The less than diligent student later dedicated much of his time to promoting American university theatre. He currently is a distinguished professor at the University of Houston, where he teaches an exclusive playwriting course. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service and Samuel French, Inc..

Albee is openly gay and states that he first knew he was gay at age 12 and a half. He has insisted, however, that he does not want to be known as a "gay writer," stating in his acceptance speech for the 2011 Lambda Literary Foundation's Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement: "A writer who happens to be gay or lesbian must be able to transcend self. I am not a gay writer. I am a writer who happens to be gay."

Albee's longtime partner, Jonathan Thomas, a sculptor, died on May 2, 2005, from bladder cancer. Albee was a heavy drinker, but the problem became particularly acute in the early 70s. He stopped with the help of Jonathan Thomas, with whom he has been with since 1971 ("I'd be dead without him," he told Gussow), but suffered several spectacular falls off the wagon. 

A member of the Dramatists Guild Council, Albee has received three Pulitzer Prizes for drama — for A Delicate Balance(1967), Seascape (1975), and Three Tall Women (1994). His play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize by the award's drama jury, but was overruled by the advisory committee, which elected not to give a drama award at all. Albee was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972. He received a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement (2005); the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1980); as well as the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts (both in 1996). In 2009 Albee received honorary degree a.k.a. "Doctor Honoris Causa" by the Bulgarian National Academy of Theater and Film Arts (NATFA) - a member of the Global Alliance of Theater Schools.

Albee is the President of the Edward F. Albee Foundation, Inc., which maintains the William Flanagan Memorial Creative Persons Center, a writers and artists colony in Montauk, New York.

In 2008, in celebration of Albee's eightieth birthday, a number of his plays were mounted in distinguished Off Broadway venues, including the historic Cherry Lane Theatre. The playwright directed two of his one-acts, The American Dream andThe Sandbox there. These were first produced at the theater in 1961 and 1962, respectively.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Albee


Edward Albee, 1991, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123718)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)


Jonathan Thomas, a sculptor who exhibited widely in North America, died on May 2, 2005, at his home in New York. He was 59.

The cause was bladder cancer, said his long-time partner, the playwright Edward Albee. Albee was a heavy drinker, but the problem became particularly acute in the early 70s. He stopped with the help of Thomas, with whom he has been with since 1971 ("I'd be dead without him," he told Gussow), but suffered several spectacular falls off the wagon.

Mr. Thomas worked in wood, wood pulp, polymer resin and steel to create a series of abstract, African-inspired totems. He also exhibited related works called language robes, which were bannerlike constructions draped over armatures.

He was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and earned a bachelor's degree in science and mathematics in 1968 and another in art history in 1969, both from McMaster University in Ontario. He did graduate studies in art history at the University of Toronto.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/06/arts/design/06thomas.html?_r=1&

Further Readings:

Stretching My Mind: The Collected Essays of Edward Albee
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (August 14, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786717998
ISBN-13: 978-0786717996
Amazon: Stretching My Mind: The Collected Essays
Amazon Kindle: Stretching My Mind: The Collected Essays

America's most important living playwright, Edward Albee, has been rocking our country's moral, political and artistic complacency for more than 50 years. Beginning with his debut play, The Zoo Story (1958), and on to his barrier breaking works of the 1960s, most notably The American Dream (1960), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1963), and the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Delicate Balance (1966), Albee's provocative, unsparing indictment of the American way of life earned him early distinction as the dramatist of his generation. His acclaim was enhanced even further in the decades that followed with prize-winning dramas such as Seascape and Three Tall Women, as well as recent works like The Play About the Baby and Who is Sylvia? Albee has brought the same critical force to his non-theatrical prose. Stretching My Mind collects for the first time ever the author's writings on theater, literature, and the political and cultural battlegrounds that have defined his career. Many of the selections were drawn from Albee's private papers, and almost all previously published material—dating from 1960 to the present—has never been reprinted. Topics include Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Sam Shepherd, as well as autobiographical writings about Albee's life, work, and worldview.

More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance


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Tags: author: edward albee, days of love tb, particular voices
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