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William Gibson

Born in 1914, William Gibson spent most of his childhood in an area of New York City called the Bronx. His mother encouraged him to achieve beyond normal expectations and tutored her son so that he could skip grades in school. While he joined in the street games and adventures of other children, Gibson also loved to read and spent much of his time absorbed in the lives of fictional characters. His love of writing began at an early age as well. In sixth grade, the budding author started buying notebooks, hoping to fill them with a novel about an uncle killed during wartime. Though he never wrote the novel, his interest in writing never diminished.

In spite of his fascination with books, young Gibson did not excel in school. He had little interest in subjects such as arithmetic, science, and history, and he struggled to keep up with his classmates in an accelerated high school. Gibson did experience success with his writing, however, and was published for the first time in a school newspaper after winning a contest. It was the first of several writing awards that he received in high school, and, as a result, the class prophet predicted that he would one day become a Hollywood writer. Music was another of Gibson's pursuits. He was a talented piano player even as a child. Although he disliked the rigors of piano lessons, the teenaged Gibson delighted in playing a rousing duet of popular hits with his father, an act they frequently performed at community gatherings.

Gibson attended the City College of New York for four semesters but, on the bad advice of a teacher, enrolled in a science program that both bored and baffled him. His only inspiration came in literature classes, and it was the praise of a literature professor-coupled with his expulsion from college for not completing any other courses-that finally motivated Gibson to devote his life to writing. It took twenty years before he actually made a living at his chosen profession, however. Until then, Gibson was supported by his wife and occasionally sought income by playing the piano or working other part-time jobs.

In addition to plays, Gibson has written poetry, fiction, and an autobiographical family chronicle called A Mass for the Dead. Besides The Miracle Worker, his most popular play is Two for the Seesaw. Both were produced on Broadway and made into motion pictures. Gibson was actively involved in planning the Broadway productions of these two plays in the late 1950s but became upset over script changes made by the producer and director. He expressed his frustration in a narrative called The Seesaw Log, published in 1959. In 1982, he wrote a sequel to The Miracle Worker, called Monday after the Miracle, based on the life of Helen Keller as a college student with Annie Sullivan as her tutor and translator. Gibson now lives in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he co-founded the Berkshire Theatre Festival.