Born in 1950, Shanley, the youngest of six, grew up in an Irish-Catholic family. Having grown up in what Shanley says, “a very violent neighborhood,” he found that writing served as a coping mechanism while living in the, “extremely anti-intellectual and extremely racist,” Bronx neighborhood of East Tremont. East Tremont was home to many working class Irish immigrant families where he, “often found himself in constant fist fights from the time I was six (Witchel, 2004).”
From the beginning, Shanley had a hard time accepting the world of academe– having been, “thrown out of St. Helena’s kindergarten, banned from St. Anthony’s hot lunch program and expelled from Cardinal Spellman High school.” Going to Catholic schools was not his forte, however, after leaving the strictness of the all-boys Cardinal Spellman High School where Shanley said, “They beat children with their fists,” he found his way to the Catholic church affiliated Thomas Moore Preparatory School in Harrisville, New Hampshire. It was here that Shanley found the more benevolent teachers that would encourage his writing talents. As a teen, Shanley wrote copious amounts of poetry, a precursor to his skills as a prolific playwright (Witchell, 2004). After graduating from Thomas Moore he went to New York University where, after a year, his tenure was cut short due to poor grades. After enlisting in the Marines and a tour in Vietnam, Shanley would later return to New York University and at the age of 27 graduate valedictorian of his class from New York University‘s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development with a degree in Educational Theatre (John Patrick Shanley. (n.d.) in Wikipedia).
Since then John Patrick Shanley has become an American stage and film titan. As a playwright he has authored over 24 plays, he often directs much of what he has written and has written many a notable screenplay, of which include–the Academy Award winning Moonstruck, Congo, and Doubt (adapted from his play of the same name) (Doubt. (n.d.) In Wikipedia).