An excerpt from an interview with legendary American playwright Edward Albee (1928-2016) made during his visit to the New York State Writers Institute in the fall of 2001.
Much of his most characteristic work is an absurdist commentary on American life. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962, film 1966), generally regarded as his finest play, presents an all-night drinking bout in which a middle-aged professor and his wife verbally lacerate each other in brilliant colloquial language. Albee has won three Pulitzer Prizes for A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975), and Three Tall Women (1994) and two Tony Awards (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance). Albee's The Play About the Baby, written in 1998 but making its New York City debut in January 2001 earned Albee another Pulitzer Prize nomination and is set in an abstract Eden populated by two characters named "Boy" and "Girl" who are very much in love. Their Paradise is ruined, however, by the arrival of a mean-spirited older couple--"Man" and "Woman."
In 1996, he received a Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award and in 1997 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. At the Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony in 1996, Albee was praised for his impact on American drama.
Albee was raised as the adopted child of the late Reed and Frances Albee, heirs to the fortune of multi-millionaire theatre manager Edward Franklin Albee. The future playwright attended numerous stage productions while still in kindergarten, and began writing poetry, plays and even novels before adolescence. At the age of 18, Albee was evicted by his adoptive mother from her house and removed from her will because of his homosexuality. Albee explores his feelings about Frances Albee in Three Tall Women, a play that he described in an interview with the New York Times as "a kind of exorcism."