Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams was an American playwright regarded as one of the foremost dramatists of the 20th century. Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi in 1911 and named John Lanier Williams. He spent most of his youth in Saint Louis. After attending the University of Missouri and Washington University, he received a B.A degree in 1938. He worked odd jobs until 1945 when he made his debut on Broadway as the author of "The Glass Menagerie". This evocative "memory play" won the New York Drama Critics' Circle award as the best play of the season.

His emotional play "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1947) has been touted as the best American play of all time and won Williams his first Pulitzer Prize for drama. He was soon awarded another Pulitzer for "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof" (1954).

All three of these plays contain the poetic dialogue, the symbolism and the original characters for which Williams is famous. All are also set in the American south, a regional identity which the author used to create a never before seen blend of sensuality, nostalgia and decadence.

In the 1930's, William's came out as openly homosexual and joined New York's small circle of openly gay intelligentsia.

Despite Williams success and acclaim he often felt restless and suffered from addiction to drugs and alcohol. This only worsened when he began to see a decline in his success in the 1960's and 70's. In 1963 his partner of many years, Frank Merlo died and Williams spiraled into a depression which left him visiting many rehabs and treatment facilities.

Most of his plays in during this time were critical failures. His last play, "A House Not Meant to Stand" was produced in 1982 and only went for 40 performances.

In 1983, Williams was found dead in his New York hotel at the age of 71. The initial coroners report stated that he choked on the cap of a bottle of eye drops that he'd been using, but was later amended to include that his copious drug and alcohol abuse most likely contributed to his death by suppressing his gag reflex.

Williams was buried in St. Louis by his surviving family members.

The Glass Menagerie

"The Glass Menagerie" is a 1944 play by the famous American playwright Tennessee Williams. The play was Williams' first big success and was praised by critics of the time as a triumph. Williams' coined the term 'memory play' in honor of The Glass Menagerie in order to describe it's specific format which was supposed to be based on the main character and narrators story if it was being … [Read more...]

A Streetcar Named Desire

"A Streetcar Named Desire" is a play written in 1947 by the great American playwright Tennessee Williams. The play was an immediate success, garnering a Pulitzer Prize for drama in the following year and is often considered to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th century. It's original run was from December 3rd 1947 to December 17th 1949 and it's original cast included well known … [Read more...]