Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, whose provocative and often brutal look at American life in works such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” earned him a reputation as one of the greatest American dramatists, died on Friday at his home in Montauk, New York, according to media reports. He was 88. Albee once told the Paris Review that he decided at age 6 that he was a writer but chose to write plays after concluding he was not a very good poet or novelist. His works would eventually rank him alongside Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill in American drama.
Albee described a playwright as “someone who lets his guts hang out on the stage,” and the innards of his own works included a powerful anger as he pushed themes such as alienation, resentment and the dark underside of life in the 1950s. The scathing drama “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” shocked audiences when it opened on Broadway in 1962. But it went on to win a Tony Award for best play, had two successful Broadway revivals and was made into a popular movie in 1966 that featured Oscar-winning performances by Elizabeth Taylor, who starred opposite Richard Burton, and Sandy Dennis.
Although the stage version was selected by a Pulitzer Prize jury for the 1963 drama award, the Pulitzer advisory board overruled the jurors because of the play’s controversial nature. No drama prize was given that year, but Albee went on to win Pulitzers in 1967 for “A Delicate Balance,” in 1975 for “Seascape” and in 1991 for “Three Tall Women.”