Tennessee Williams

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Tennessee Williams in 1965, at a celebration for the 20th anniversary of The Glass Menagerie.

Thomas Lanier Williams III (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983), known by his pen name Tennessee Williams, was an American playwright and screenwriter. Along with contemporaries Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller, he is considered among the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.[1]

At age 33, after years of obscurity, Williams suddenly became famous with the success of The Glass Menagerie (1944) in New York City. This play closely reflected his own unhappy family background. It was the first of a string of successes, including A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), and The Night of the Iguana (1961). With his later work, Williams attempted a new style that did not appeal as widely to audiences. His drama A Streetcar Named Desire is often numbered on short lists of the finest American plays of the 20th century alongside Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

Much of Williams's most acclaimed work has been adapted for the cinema. He also wrote short stories, poetry, essays and a volume of memoirs. In 1979, four years before his death, Williams was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.[2]

Personal life

In a letter by Williams to the writer and memoirist Donald Windham, dated September 20, 1943, when the former was 32 years old and living in an apartment building on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California, there is mention of an erotic encounter that the playwright had just had with the unnamed teenage son of a swing-shift working woman, "a Ganymede of 15 years exactly, met on the Palisades", who would be his youngest recorded sexual partner.[3]


  1. Bloom, Harold, ed. (1987). Tennessee Williams. Chelsea House Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-0877546368.
  2. "Theater Hall of Fame Enshrines 51 Artists". November 19, 1979. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  3. Tennessee Williams, "Letter 53: 1647 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, Calif.; September 20, 1943"; Donald Windham, ed., Tennessee Williams' Letters to Donald Windham, 1940–1965 (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977), p. 105.

See also