Tennessee Williams

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Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams


Tennessee Williams (real name Thomas Lanier Williams) was born in Columbus, Mississippi's on 26 March 1911, but spent his childhood in the town of Saint Louis, Missouri, a city he visited after he was seven. Williams was the son of Edwina Dakin Williams, the daughter of a priest, and Cornelius Coffin Williams, a merchant in a shoe factory.

He graduated in 1938 in Philosophy from the University of Iowa, after first going through the University of Missouri, where he had enrolled in a career in journalism. After holding various trades Williams achieved his first triumph on Broadway with the play "The Glass Menagerie, for which he won an award from the New York theater critic.

After "The Glass Menagerie" Tennessee Williams, influenced by writers like DH Lawrence or Anton Chekhov, was revealed as one of the greatest postwar U.S. dramaturges with stage plays set in southern and decadent characters starring in psychological conflict, marked by vital frustration and extreme physical and emotional passion displayed in their relationships.

Among his best works include “Summer and Smoke ", "A Streetcar Named Desire ", "Suddenly, Last Summer", "The Rose Tattoo", " Sweet Bird of Youth " and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. Tennessee Williams also won Pulitzer category awards for his plays.


Tennessee Williams, son of Cornelius Coffin and Edwina Dakin Williams, grew up in Columbus, Mississippi and lived there a relatively happy childhood although his father as a traveling shoe salesman was often absent and led a very unsettled life.

From 1929 to 1932 he studied journalism and theater arts at the University of Missouri-Columbia. After discontinuation of studies, he earned his living first as a laborer in a shoe factory. In New York he attended the courses offered by Erwin Piscator for young dramatists.

His difficult family relationships are partly echoed in his literary work. The father Cornelius Williams beat his children. The mother, Edwina Williams, came from a formerly wealthy Southern family. His brother, Dakin Williams, was preferred by the father against Tennessee. His sister, Rose Williams was mentally ill and emotionally unstable and thus spent much of her life under medical supervision. That in her a lobotomy was performed, to which the parents had agreed, Tennessee Williams never forgave them.

The characters in Williams' plays are often considered in connection with his family members. Thus, the character of Laura Wingfield from The Glass Menagerie was based on his sister Rose and Amanda Wingfield inspired by his mother. Also, Brick Pollitt, the main character in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof, has strong autobiographical elements. Above all, Williams was a writer of the American South. New Orleans, the Delta of Mississippi and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico are scenes of his plays.

In 1947 Williams, whose homosexuality was uncovered in his book "Memoirs" (1975), met and fell in love with Frank Merlo. Merlo died of cancer in 1961, plunging the Williams into a deep depression from which he never recovered mentally and ...
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