Albert Ramsdell Gurney, Jr., nicknamed “Pete,” was born in Buffalo, New York, on November 1, 1930, the son of Albert Ransdell Gurney, Sr., a dealer in real estate and insurance, and Marion Spaulding Gurney. The young Gurney grew up in the exclusive suburbia he depicts in his plays. From St. Paul’s school, he went to Williams College, where he was graduated in 1952 with a B.A. degree in English literature. After graduation, he served three years (1952-1955) in the navy as an officer and then attended the Yale School of Drama, where he earned the M.F.A. degree in 1958. In 1984, he was awarded an honorary D.D.L. degree. In 1960, he began a long, distinguished career as teacher of literature and humanities at MIT.
In June, 1957, Gurney married Mary Forman Goodyear; they have four children: George, Amy, Evelyn, and Benjamin. They lived in Boston until 1983, when Gurney moved his family to New York to be near the theater, television, and publishers while he was on sabbatical from MIT. All this time he was concerned with the contrast between the values instilled in him as a youth and those of the world he was experiencing.
From early childhood, he had a passion for drama. He wrote his first play in kindergarten. His passion was fostered by his aunt, who liked to attend matinees but could find no one to go with her. It became Gurney’s lot to go, and he enjoyed every minute of the saturation. He also liked to listen to dramas on the radio and...
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