Lee Blessing Biography


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Lee Knowlton Blessing was born in the theatrical community of Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 4, 1949, and would continue to call Minneapolis home for much of his adult life. After growing up in nearby Minnetonka, Blessing began his college career at the University of Minnesota before transferring to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, to complete his bachelors in English in 1971. Three years later, he began pursuing his masters of fine arts in English at the University of Iowa, where he would first begin to find success in playwriting. He went on to receive a second masters of fine arts from Iowa in speech and theater, and it was while pursuing this degree that he wrote his first published work, The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid. This first success, staged originally as a student production at Iowa, went on to win the American College Theater Festival’s National Playwriting Award in 1979 and was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Though it would be eight years before his Broadway success with A Walk in the Woods, Blessing was quite productive in the years following his graduation from Iowa. Between 1982 and 1985, he formed two of the more fruitful professional relationships of his career—with the Actors Theatre of Louisville and the O’Neill Theater Center. The Actors Theatre premiered his first four professional productions, and six of his plays have gone through workshop readings at the O’Neill Center’s...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Lee Knowlton Blessing, perhaps best known for his play A Walk in the Woods, has been a major force in post-1960’s American theater. Blessing’s plays are considered by many critics to be truthful, often controversial explorations in the variances of human relationships. Blessing’s plays reach into the depth of human souls to find the underlying truths that bind people, no matter what their political viewpoint, sexual preference, ethnicity, or gender.

After Blessing’s birth in Minnesota in 1949, he spent his early years in Minnetonka, a Twin Cities suburb. Blessing, who described his childhood as quiet, was raised by his father, Frank, and his mother, Harriet. Frank Blessing was a salesman and businessman who eventually opened his own textile wholesaler firm. Harriet Blessing was a homemaker. Neither parent had attended college. Blessing’s parents were reluctant to endorse his career as a playwright but eventually were able to take pride in and enjoy their son’s theatrical accomplishments. Blessing had two brothers, Guy and Dean. Dean was killed in an automobile crash during college, an event that was later mentioned in the dialogue of Blessing’s play Patient A. Lee Blessing married Jeanne Blake, a writer and director, in 1986 and was stepfather to her two children from a prior marriage, Rachel and Andrew. Blessing and Blake divorced in 2000.

Blessing graduated from Reed College with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Later he received a master of fine arts degree in speech and theater as well as a master of fine arts in English from the University of Iowa in 1979.

Blessing’s first play, The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, won the National Playwriting Award of the American College Theater Festival and opened at the Kennedy Center in New York City in 1979. In The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid, Blessing presents an unexpected plot element in which Billy the Kid appears and introduces himself to a sheriff who, years before, was responsible for ending Billy’s life. This ability to twist...

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(Drama for Students)

Lee Blessing Published by Gale Cengage

Lee Blessing was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 4, 1949. He grew up in a conventional midwestern family, where, ironically, there...

(The entire section is 488 words.)