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Marsha Norman
Born 21 September 1947 (1947-09-21) (age 62)
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Nationality United States
Spouse Tim Dykma (1987-present)
Dann C. Byck, Jr. (1978-1986)
Michael Norman (1969-1974)
Notable work(s) The Color Purple
Magnum opus 'night, Mother
The Secret Garden
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1983)

Marsha Norman (born September 21, 1947) is an American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. She received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play 'night, Mother. She wrote the book and lyrics for such Broadway musicals as The Secret Garden, for which she won a Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical, and The Red Shoes, as well as the libretto for the musical The Color Purple.[1]




Early years

Norman was born in Louisville, Kentucky. As a child, she read, played the piano, had an imaginary friend named Bettering, and visited the theatre- where she viewed productions by the Actor's Theatre of Louisville. After graduating from Agnes Scott College with a degree in philosophy, she began working as a journalist for The Louisville Times newspaper, and writing for Kentucky Educational Television. She also taught young children and adolescents in mental institutions and hospitals. These were perhaps her biggest influence on her writing, especially a 13-year-old girl who influenced her play "Getting Out". She also taught English at the J. Graham Brown School in Louisville.


Norman wrote her first play Getting Out which was produced at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. The play deals with a young woman just paroled after serving an eight-year prison sentence for robbery, kidnapping and manslaughter, and reflects Norman's experience working with disturbed adolescents at Kentucky's Central State Hospital.

Norman's success with Getting Out led her to move to New York City where she continued to write for the Actor's Theatre of Louisville and she produced a full length play, Circus Valentine in 1979. Her next play, 'night, Mother, would turn out to be her best-known work given its initial success on Broadway and the star-powered film version. 'night, Mother brought Norman a great deal of recognition. The play, dealing frankly with the subject of suicide, won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Hull-Warriner, and the Drama Desk Award.

Norman wrote the book and lyrics for the musical version of the Frances Hodgeson Burnett novel The Secret Garden, and won the Tony Award for Best Book in 1991. Her work in musical theatre continued with her writing the book and lyrics for the musical The Red Shoes. She also wrote the libretto for the musical version of The Color Purple which opened in 2005.

Norman currently serves on the faculty of the Juilliard School in New York City, and is Vice-President of the Dramatists Guild of America. She has written occasional screenplays for episodes of the HBO series In Treatment.



  1. ^ "Artists Offstage: Marsha Norman". American Repertory Theatre. 4 November 1998. Retrieved 2008-12-21.  

External links


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