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Margaret Edson

Margaret "Maggie" Edson (born July 4, 1961) is an American playwright. She is a recipient of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Wit. She has been a public school teacher since 1992.


  • Background and education 1
  • Wit 2
  • Awards 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Background and education

Edson was born in Washington, D.C., the second child of Peter Edson, a newspaper columnist, and Joyce Winifred Edson, a medical social worker. Like the protagonist in Wit, Edson is well acquainted with academia. A graduate of Sidwell Friends School, a Quaker-run private school in Washington, where she had been active in the drama program, Edson enrolled at Smith College in Massachusetts in 1979, earning a degree in Renaissance history in 1983. After graduation, Edson moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where her sister lived, and took a job selling hot dogs during the day and tending bar at night.

She returned to her hometown of Washington, D.C., and acquired a job as unit clerk in the AIDS and cancer treatment wing of a research hospital. Subsequently she moved to the St. Francis Center (now the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing), where she worked on producing grant proposals. At this point, Edson decided to pursue a doctorate in literature, but first wished to write a play. Edson worked at a bicycle store in Washington and spent the summer of 1991 writing the first draft of Wit.[1]

She enrolled in the graduate program in English at

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She lives in Atlanta with her long-time partner, art historian Linda Merrill, and their two sons, Timothy Edson Merrill and Peter Edson Merrill.

She also taught at John Hope Elementary school in Atlanta, Georgia. She has given many public lectures including the 2008 commencement address at Smith College. [8] Edson has continued teaching with no plans to write another play. Currently, she teaches 6th grade social studies at

In 2012, the Manhattan Theater Company produced a revival of the play on Broadway. Lynn Meadow directed and Cynthia Nixon played Professor Bearing.[7]The most recent regional production is running at Triad Stage, directed by Dani Keil [8] and starring Kate Goehring as Vivian Bearing, Ph.D.

The play was published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 1999.

HBO secured the film rights to the play and engaged Mike Nichols to direct and Emma Thompson to star. Nichols and Thompson collaborated on the screenplay.[5] [6]The production won the Emmy Award for Best Film in 2001.

The play ran for 18 months Off-Broadway at the Union Square Theatre. Judith Light replaced Chalfant in the leading role and the two actress shared the national tour in 2000.[4] Since then, it has received hundreds of productions in dozens of languages.

Despite Wit's success at SCR, other theater companies were reluctant to produce the play. In 1997, the young director Derek Anson Jones was chosen by the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

[3].Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards enjoyed a successful run and won several Wit. The artistic team at South Coast Repertory worked with Edson to condense her two-act play into one long, emotionally draining act; the revised Costa Mesa, California in South Coast Repertory It was finally accepted in 1995 by the [2]

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