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Playwright Romulus Linney dies at 80

January 16, 2011 | 11:29 am

Linney Romulus Linney, a prolific playwright whose work included stories set in Appalachia and the Nuremberg trials, has died in New York. He was 80.

Linney died Saturday at his home in Germantown, N.Y., said his wife, Laura Callanan. The cause was lung cancer.

Linney, father of actress Laura Linney, wrote more than 30 plays that covered a number of subjects. Some of his works were set in Appalachia, which he was familiar with through his youth growing up in the South. Others were historical dramas, some looking at moments in time like the Nuremberg trials or the Vietnam War and others taken from the lives of public figures like the poet Lord Byron or Frederick II, a king of Prussia.

Linney also had the ability to write the voice of women particularly well, Callanan said.

"When I first saw his plays as a student years ago, walking in you wouldn't know if the playwright was a man or woman," she said.

Most of Linney's work appeared in regional theater and off-Broadway, with one play appearing in a Broadway theater.  He also taught at schools including Columbia and Princeton universities, Hunter College and the New School.

Callanan said he had been working on a novel at the time of his death, and had completed the libretto for an opera based on one of his plays.

--Associated Press

Photo: Romulus Linney, left, with Robyn Cohen during reading of "Bus Stop" at Independence Community College in Independence, Kan., in 2003. Credit: AP Photo/Independence Daily Reporter, Karen Mikols