Beginning in the late fifties, The New Yorker ran a series of short Talk items about captivating graffiti slogans. Most of these accounts were brief, including simply the location and a description of the graffiti in question. The magazine chronicled an early example of literary graffiti that would take on greater artistic significance. In 1957, a keen-eyed New Yorker contributor published a small item about someone who had recently visited an “espresso joint” in Greenwich Village. The visitor took note of a phrase that was written, in elegant calligraphy, on the wall beside his chair: “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Years later, the playwright Edward Albee, who was often asked about the title of his 1962 play, told The Paris Review how he’d been inspired by a line of graffiti that he had seen scrawled on the wall of a Greenwich Village establishment during the mid-fifties. Perhaps this was the very same scribbling the magazine had noted in its pages nearly five years before the play’s début.
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