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Study Guides on Works by Edward Albee
Edward Albee was given up for adoption shortly after his birth March 12, in Washington D. Reed and Frances Albee became his foster parents, bringing him to their home in Larchmont, New York when he was only 18 days old; they officially adopted him on February 1, , and changed his name to Edward Franklin Albee III. Keith in a chain of vaudeville theaters located throughout the U. Consisting of over theaters, the Keith-Albee circuit, which later merged with other theaters to form RKO the Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corporation , made the elder Albee millions, subsequently inherited by his son. She was tall and imposing, he short and dapper. He bought thoroughbred horses for showing, she rode them and won the ribbons. In his own estimation, Albee did not have the kind of carefree, nurtured childhood one hopes for every child growing up.
Albee was the adopted child of a father who had for a time been the assistant general manager of a chain of vaudeville theatres then partially owned by the Albee family. He had a difficult relationship with his parents, particularly with his mother, whom he saw as distant and unloving. Albee grew up in New York City and nearby Westchester county. He wrote poetry and an unpublished novel but turned to plays in the late s. In this play a middle-aged professor, his wife, and a younger couple engage one night in an unrestrained drinking bout that is filled with malicious games, insults, humiliations, betrayals, savage witticisms, and painful, self-revealing confrontations. Virginia Woolf won immediate acclaim and established Albee as a major American playwright.
Some critics have argued that some of his work constitutes an American variant of what Martin Esslin identified and named the Theater of the Absurd. His works are often considered frank examinations of the modern condition. His middle period comprised plays that explored the psychology of maturing, marriage, and sexual relationships. Younger American playwrights, such as Paula Vogel , credit Albee's mix of theatricality and biting dialogue with helping to reinvent postwar American theatre in the early s.