A. R. Gurney

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A. R. Gurney (born November 1, 1930) born as Albert Ramsdell Gurney Jr, sometimes credited as Pete Gurney is an American playwright, novelist and academic.[1][2][3] He is known for works including Love Letters, The Cocktail Hour, The Dining Room His and Sweet Sue. Gurney currently lives in New York and Connecticut. His series of plays about upper-class White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) life in contemporary America have been called "penetratingly witty studies of the WASP ascendancy in retreat." In "The Cocktail Hour" (1988), for example, a lead character tells her playwright son that theater critics "don't like us.... They resent us. They think we're all Republicans, all superficial and all alcoholics. Only the latter is true."[4]


Born in Buffalo, New York, Gurney, a graduate of St. Paul's School (Concord, New Hampshire), attended Williams College and the Yale School of Drama, after which he began teaching Humanities at MIT.[1] He began writing plays such as Children and The Middle Ages while at MIT, but it was his great success with The Dining Room that allowed him to write full-time. Since The Dining Room, Gurney has written a number of plays, most of them concerning WASPs of the American northeast. While at Yale, Gurney also wrote the musical: Love in Buffalo; this was the first musical ever produced at the Yale School of Drama.

His most recent play is Love and Money, about a mature woman making plans to dispose of her fortune, and the twists that ensue; the world premiere was at New York's Signature Theatre in August 2015. Before that, The Grand Manner, a play about his real life encounter with famed actress Katharine Cornell in her production of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, was produced and performed by Lincoln Center for the summer of 2010. It was also produced in Buffalo by the Kavinoky Theatre.[5]

Gurney has also written several novels, including The Snow Ball, The Gospel According to Joe and Entertaining Strangers. He appeared in several of his plays including The Dining Room and most notably Love Letters.[citation needed]

Dennis Howard and Heather McRae in the US Premiere of CHILDREN, by A.R. Gurney, directed by Keith Fowler, Virginia Museum Theater, 1976

In 2006, Gurney was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[citation needed]


Awards and honors[edit]

In 2007, Gurney received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist.


  1. ^ a b Sponberg AF.Broadway Talks: What Professionals Think about Commercial Theater in America. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1991. ISBN 9780313266874
  2. ^ A.R. Gurney Biography
  3. ^ Sponberg AF. A.R. Gurney: A Casebook. Psychology Press, 2004. ISBN 9780415929981
  4. ^ For the quotes see Terry Teachout, "Anatomy of a WASP," Wall Street Journal Jan 8, 2016
  5. ^ Lincoln Center Theater: The Grand Manner, lct.org; accessed May 25, 2015.
  6. ^ Hartigan K. Greek Tragedy Transformed: AJ Gurney and Charles Mee Rewrite Greek Drama. in Foster VA. Dramatic Revisions of Myths, Fairy Tales and Legends: Essays on Recent Plays.. McFarland, 2012 ISBN 9780786465125

External links[edit]