After O'Neill, Williams is perhaps the best dramatist the United States has yet produced. Born in his grandfather's rectory in Columbus, Mississippi, Williams and his family later moved to St. Louis. There Williams endured many bad years caused by the abuse of his father and his own anguish over his introverted sister, who was later permanently institutionalized. Williams attended the University of Missouri, and, after time out to clerk for a shoe company and for his own mental breakdown, also attended Washington University of St. Louis and the University of Iowa, from which he graduated in 1938. Williams began to write plays in 1935. During 1943 he spent six months as a contract screenwriter for MGM but produced only one script, The Gentleman Caller. When MGM rejected it, Williams turned it into his first major success, The Glass Menagerie (1945). In this intensely autobiographical play, Williams dramatizes the story of Amanda, who dreams of restoring her lost past by finding a gentleman caller for her crippled daughter, and of Amanda's son Tom, who longs to escape from the responsibility of supporting his mother and sister. After The Glass Menagerie,Williams wrote his masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire, (1947), along with a steady stream of other plays, among them such major works as Summer and Smoke(1948), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1954), and Suddenly Last Summer (1958). His plays celebrate the "fugitive kind," the sensitive outcasts whose outsider status allows them to perceive the horror of the world and who often give additional witness to that horror by becoming its victims. Stephen S. Stanton has summed up Williams's "virtues and strengths" as "a genius for portraiture, particularly of women, a sensitive ear for dialogue and the rhythms of natural speech, a comic talent often manifesting itself in "black comedy,' and a genuine theatrical flair exhibited in telling stage effects attained through lighting, costume, music, and movements." After The Night of the Iguana (1961), Williams continued to write profusely---and constantly to revise his work---but it became more difficult to get productions of his plays and, if they were produced, to win critical or popular acclaim for them. Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for these two and for The Glass Menagerie and The Night of the Iguana.
Edward Albee was born on March 12, 1928. He was adopted as an infant by Reid Albee, the son of Edward Franklin Albee of the powerful Keith-Albee vaudeville chain. He was raised in great affluence and sent to preparatory and military schools. ending his formal education after a year and a half at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Albee often clashed with his mother and eventually left home when he was 20 and moved to New York's Greenwich Village. Albee's first job was writing continuity dialogue for radio station WNYC. After using up the inheritance from his paternal grandmother, he took a variety of menial jobs until 1959 when The Zoo Story made him a famous playwright, first in Europe, where it premiered in Berlin, and then in New York. In 1960 it won the Vernon Rice Memorial Award. Albee's first and major "hit" was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which opened on Broadway in 1963. It ran for 664 performances and was made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and is probably Albee's most recognized work. In 1966, A Delicate Balance won Albee his first Pulitzer Prize. In 1975, Albee won his second Pulitzer with Seascape, and then his third with Three Tall Women in 1991. Three Tall Women enjoyed a sold-out success in New York and has been staged across the country and around the world. It received Best Play awards from the New York Drama Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle. Albee has written 25 plays and over the years has received an impressive number of awards including two Tony Awards, one for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1965 and a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 2005. Albee also taught at the School of Theatre of the University of Houston and gives lectures on his work at colleges around the US.