- Group of first editions of his plays inscribed to his mother and her copy of the script of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
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Much has been written about Edward Albee's relationship with his adoptive parents Reed and Frances Cotter Albee. The playwright himself never hesitated to air his feeling about his parents, once telling an interviewer, "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." He later described the family home in Larchmont as a "stultifying, suffocating environment." Mrs. Albee died in 1989. A few years later, Albee would draw inspiration from his mother's character and life for his celebrated late drama Three Tall Women.
The inscriptions in these volumes tell a different story, with Albee even referring to his mother as "someone who understands". The books (all published Atheneum, New York) include Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1962. "For Mother, with love, Edward. December, 1962. N. Y. C." — Tiny Alice. 1965. "For my Mother — in celebration of the first of our many opening nights together. Love, Edward. NYC 3·12·65" — A Delicate Balance. 1966. "For Mother, Once more, with love, to someone who understands. Edward" — Seascape. 1975. "Dear Mother: One play for one picture — fair exchange! Love, Edward" — The Lady from Dubuque. 1980. "With love from the author! 1980".
While Mrs. Albee's copy of the Virginia Woolf script is not inscribed, it does have a few small autograph corrections. At the end of the last act, the stage direction "(George nods slowly)" has been added in ink. The multigraphed title-page helps date this as an early draft of the play. Underneath the playwrights's name the address "Theater 1962, 26 West 8th Street, New York 11, New York" is printed. This 8th Street address was actually the apartment of Albee's friend and associate Richard Barr. In late winter 1962, the first reading of the play was staged in Barr's living room. To say the least, it was an unusual reading, with Albee reading the part of George and Barr reading Martha and the roles of Nick and Honey read by two other male friends.
A fine group of inscribed first editions, shedding new light on the playwright's conflicted relationship with his mother.