Romulus Linney was born in Philadelphia and reared in Madison, Tennessee. His father, a doctor and an avid outdoorsman, greatly influenced Linney’s life but died when Linney was thirteen. He and his mother moved to Washington, where she taught public speaking. After he was graduated from Oberlin College in 1953, Linney attended the Yale School of Drama, where he received an M.F.A. degree in directing in 1958. He began his writing career as a novelist, writing Heathen Valley in 1962 and Slowly, by Thy Hand Unfurled in 1965. After some struggling, he wrote his first play, The Sorrows of Frederick, and found his true voice. After that time, Linney wrote many plays. He was a member of New Dramatists for seven years, and he continued to write, lecture, and conduct workshops at several colleges in the New York area, where he settled.
Linney’s first attempt at Broadway, The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks, while beautifully acted and staged, did not receive the necessary rave reviews to keep it running. Clive Barnes, in particular, complained of the script’s improbability: “The play could not . . . ever make a particularly convincing or satisfying evening in the theater.” Its subject matter, the double suicide of a general and his wife, was not palpable to the typical Broadway audience.
An imaginative writer, Linney wrote from two usually distinct points of view: the Tennessee-born background of such...
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