Edward Franklin Albee III was born to Louise Harvey and an unknown father on March 12, 1928; he was placed for adoption less than two weeks after birth. A few days later, the baby was given to Reed A. Albee and Frances C. Albee, “a childless couple living in New York” (Gussow 22), who formally adopted him less than a year later. Although Albee seems to have known by age six that he was adopted, only after his mother’s death did he find his adoption papers and discover “that his birth name was Edward Harvey. His name was always Edward, the one continuing link to his otherwise unknown past” (Gussow 22). The Albees were old American stock who had most recently made their money in show business, but Albee today “thinks of the Albee family and the family history as something completely separate from himself” (Gussow 24). Although Albee as a child would live a very privileged life, he had a very troubled relationship with his parents, so much so that any material benefit he might have derived was negated by that relationship. That difficulty and the fact of his adoption would have great influence on the character and direction of his life.
Albee was very fond of his grandmother and his father’s sister, although the latter was alcoholic, but less than close to his father. Having been well-off from birth, Reed was a man with little motivation to do much except practice adultery. By far the more charismatic person in the marriage was Albee’s mother Frances, known as “Frankie.” Very tall and stylish, she dominated the marriage, the household, and her son’s life, although she was often absent from it.
Somewhat sickly as a child, Albee early showed a penchant for art and music and began writing poems at an early age. He as well had a sharp eye for material that could later be used in his plays: For example, his memories of his childhood