Romulus Linney

Photo of Romulus Linney

"My novels, stories and plays on the surface are based on history, Appalachian life, or from personal experience in my childhood, with my family, in the army, from friends, gossip, the art world of New York. But they really all come from a much deeper place I hope never to understand. I can always see, sometimes only years later, what this or that was more or less about, but in the doing, best efforts need a sort of ignorant arousal. It is dark work but it gives a pleasure keen as sex, vast as love. It is a release from basic human miseries. It is justification of existence. Sometimes it gives fellow creatures pleasure. It needs to remain unknown."

--Romulus Linney


One of our most acclaimed American playwrights, Romulus Linney is the author of three novels and more than forty plays. Born in Philadelphia in 1931, Mr. Linney was raised in the Appalachian town of Madison, Tennessee. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama, he traveled to New York City in 1958 to begin his career as a playwright and director. Since that time, his plays have been produced in theatres throughout the United States and abroad.

linneykeynote Many of his works are set in his native Appalachia and other rural areas. Heathen Valley, Holy Ghosts, Tennessee, Woman Without a Name, and Sand Mountain, among others have garnered Mr. Linney critical praise for the lyrical quality of his dialogue and the nuanced richness that he brings to his characters. Other plays such as Childe Byron, 2, The Sorrows of Frederick, and Three Poets delve into the lives of historical and literary figures to explore contemporary and personal concerns. Additionally, Mr. Linney is renowned for his adaptations, such as Gint (from Peer Gynt) and A Lesson Before Dying (from the Ernest Gaines novel).

Mr. Linney's plays have been frequently honored. He has won two Obie Awards, two national Critics Awards, three Hollywood Dramalogue Awards, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations and both the Award in Literature and the Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, to which he was elected in 2002. He has taught at many universities including Columbia, Princeton, the Universities of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and the Actors Studio Drama School at New School University. He has received honorary Doctorates from Oberlin College, Appalachian State University, and Wake Forest University.

The Horton Foote American Playwrights Festival is proud to name Romulus Linney as the 2005 recipient of the Horton Foote Excellence in American Playwriting Award.

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Pictured left to right above, from the 2004 Festival, Romulus Linney, Carlin Glynn, Hallie Foote, Cameron Watson, Estelle Parsons, and Steven Pounders.