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Edward Albee on Montauk

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RIP, dear sir

Several years ago, we were working on a book about Montauk, in which we asked a number of famous people to reflect on their love for Montauk. Mr. Edward Albee was kind enough to reply and write about his love for the town for a nothing nobody author (us). We offer the following with love and respect for a great writer. Godspeed, Mr. Albee.

I saw Montauk for the first time in the summer of 1961 when I drove out there to meet with Uta Hagen, the great actress, at her summer home abutting the ocean, to see if she was interested in being in my play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She was and so she did.

Back then there was no new highway to Montauk – it was the Old Montauk Highway which took us into town. The Old Montauk Highway ran along the ocean, with hills and valleys – occasionally the ocean was visible – and, finally, at the top of a hill, the land descended and there was the wide ocean and the flat plain of Montauk. I think it was during that drive that I decided I had to live in Montauk some day. I had always been a person who needed to be near oceans as a kid – my family wintered in Palm Beach, Florida, in a house on the ocean, and in the summers they had a house in Larchmont, on Long Island Sound.

A couple of years after Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened, my would be real estate agent (the dear Martha Greene) called to tell me that a small house on the ocean had become available, for its owner had died in a small plane accident. I saw the house – it was a small house with a small guest house on four acres and, indeed, it was on the ocean on a hill. It was ideal. And while I didn’t have the $40,000 for what four acres were going for then, I did have Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on Broadway, which enabled me to go broke by getting the property.

Montauk has changed a lot over the years: many of the lovely little ocean front houses are being taken down and houses too large for the properties put up in their stead. But Montauk still has not suffered as badly as The Hamptons have in overpopulation and overcrowding. I cannot imagine living anywhere else than Montauk, though I do keep a loft in Tribeca in New York City.

—Edward Albee, 2012