Marsha Williams Norman was born on September 21, 1947, in Louisville, Kentucky. She was a solitary child, and she inevitably cites childhood loneliness as having led to writing as a profession. Her mother, a Fundamentalist Methodist, did not believe that the local children were “good enough,” and so Norman spent her childhood reading, practicing piano, and playing with “Bettering,” an imaginary friend, in her Audubon Park, Kentucky, home. A high school essay entitled “Why Do Good Men Suffer?” earned first prize in a local contest and was subsequently published in the Kentucky English Bulletin.
Norman’s earliest works, whimsical reviews and essays published in the 1970’s, appeared in local newspapers. Her most widely read pieces appeared in the Louisville Times starting in 1976 in “The Jelly Bean Journal,” a weekend children’s supplement that she created for that newspaper. It was only after Jory asked her to write a serious play that Norman recalled her counseling experiences with disturbed adolescents at Kentucky Central State Hospital (perhaps also the psychological imprisonment of her own childhood) and wrote Getting Out. This play was staged successfully by the Actors Theatre in 1977 and enjoyed Los Angeles and New York runs. Her most widely known play, ’night, Mother, has been translated into twenty-three languages and was produced as a film. Third and Oak achieved success in...
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