LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Playwright Edward Albee, the author of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," will receive the Edward MacDowell Medal for his lifetime achievement, the organization behind the award said on Tuesday.
Albee will become only the third playwright to receive the annual award since it was first handed out in 1960. The medal will be presented to him on August 14.
"Edward Albee was chosen for a clear and obvious reason: he is a towering presence in American theater," Andre Bishop, chairman of this year's MacDowell medalist selection committee, said in a statement.
Albee has long been considered one of the United States' greatest playwrights, alongside such giants as Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill.
His works deal with disillusionment, loneliness and unseen agony in a sometimes scathing manner. His most famous play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?," opened in 1962 and was seen as a brutal examination of middle-class American life.
Albee, 83, has written 30 plays and won three Pulitzer Prizes and three Tony Awards. His other notable works include his first play "The Zoo Story," which he wrote at age 30, "A Delicate Balance," "Seascape," and "Three Tall Women."
The playwright was adopted soon after his birth and raised in a wealthy family, with a father who made a fortune with vaudeville theaters. He was sent to elite schools and was expelled from two of them, showing at a young age that he had no interest in social status.
The New Hampshire-based MacDowell Colony, the organization behind the medal, is an artist residency program that has provided fellowships to more than 6,500 artists since its founding in 1907.
Past winners of the MacDowell Medal include painter Georgia O'Keeffe, composer Leonard Bernstein and architect I.M. Pei. The other two playwrights who received the medal were Thornton Wilder and Lillian Hellman.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Peter Bohan)