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About Tennessee Williams

Tennessee williams was one of the most prolific American playwrights of the last century. At the end of his 72 years, he had to his credit 35 full length plays, 31 short plays, 6 original screenplays, 6 collections of short stories, 4 songs, 2 books of poetry, 2 novels, 2 books of letters, an autobiography, and the libretto to an opera. He was born March 26, 1911, and spent his youth in Columbus and St. Louis, Missouri. He studied at Washington University in St. Louis, and worked at the international shoe company there, but it never felt like home. He would later write that his life was spent yearning for his “perfect youth” in the south. This vision of the south dominated his writing, and as an adult, he chose to spend much of his time along the gulf coast, from Key West to New Orleans. Aside from geography, the other major influence on Williams’ life and work was his family. His mother, Edwina, appears again and again in the guise of strong heroines who face adversity head-on, such as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. Williams’ writing career began in earnest in 1939 when he won the $100 group theatre award for American Blues, and a Fockefeller Foundation grant for $1000 — it was the same year he began writing under the name Tennessee. In 1940 he had his first major premiere: Battle of Angels opened at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. Between 1945, when The Glass Menagerie premiered, and his death in 1983, Williams achieved an astonishing 32 broadway openings in 38 years. His numerous works include: The Glass Menagerie (1945); A Streetcar Named Desire (1947); Summer and Smoke (1948); The Rose Tattoo (1951); Camino Real (1953); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955); Garden District (1958) Sweet Bird of Youth (1959) The Night of the Iguana (1961); The Seven Descents of Myrtle (1968) In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel (1969); Small Craft Warnings (1972); The Red Devil Battery Sign (1975); The Eccentricities of a Nightingale (1976); Vieux Carré (1977); A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur (1978); and Clothes for a Summer Hotel (1980). An emphasis on obscure works from the last three decades of his life. 2011 marked Williams’ centennial, an occasion when many of these ‘new’ Williams plays were first produced.

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