William Gibson Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The dramatist William Gibson, who is best known for writing The Miracle Worker, was born to lower middle-class parents. His mother’s family were vaudevillians. His father worked for the post office and later in the mail room of a major bank. Both of Gibson’s parents were musical. His mother played the mandolin and his father the piano. Gibson’s father was a Protestant, but Gibson and his sister were brought up in the Roman Catholic religion of their mother, even though she was not able to take communion for thirty years, having been married in a civil ceremony. Gibson writes about his family, childhood, and early adulthood in A Mass for the Dead.

From 1930 to 1932, Gibson attended City College of New York, but he did not take a degree. He became a communist for a short time. Gibson sold his first writing, a short story, in the mid-1930’s. After his first marriage ended in divorce, he married the psychiatrist Margaret Brenman in 1940; they had two sons. Until he was able to support himself through his writing, he taught music and literature, gave piano lessons, worked in community theaters, and sold an occasional story or poem.

Gibson first won recognition as a poet. In 1945, he won the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize for a group of his poems. In 1950, he attended a playwrights’ seminar held by Clifford Odets, whom Gibson later cited as a major influence. His novel The Cobweb, which is set in a psychiatric hospital, was a best-seller in 1954; he also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation.

In 1958, Gibson had a Broadway production of his play Two for the Seesaw, which ran for 750 performances. A...

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(Drama for Students)

William Gibson was born in the Bronx, New York, on November 13,1914, the son of George Irving, a bank clerk, and Florence (Dore) Gibson. Gibson spent his childhood in New York City and eventually attended the City College of New York, where he studied from 1930 until 1932. After graduation, Gibson moved to Kansas, supporting himself as a piano teacher while pursuing his interest in theatre. It was in Topeka, Kansas, that Gibson had his earliest plays produced. Most of these early works were light comedies; two of them were later revised and restaged: A Cry Of The Players and Dinny and the Witches, both in 1948. Shortly after his time in Kansas, Gibson met a psychoanalyst named Margaret Brenman; the two were married on September 6, 1940, and eventually had two sons, Thomas and David.

Gibson's first major critical and popular success in New York was Two for The Seesaw, which opened on Broadway in 1958. He was praised for the play's brisk dialogue and the compassion with which he endowed the characters. However, it is Gibson's second Broadway production, The Miracle Worker, for which he is best known.

Gibson first became fascinated with Anne Sullivan and her triumph as Helen Keller's teacher while reading the letters that Anne Sullivan wrote in 1887 describing her experiences in the Keller household. It was these letters and also Nella Brady's biography, Anne Sullivan Macy, that inspired Gibson to write about Anne...

(The entire section is 510 words.)