Guide Tennessee Williams: A Literary Life

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Tennessee was himself a rather delicate child who was plagued with several serious childhood diseases which kept him from attending regular school. Instead, he read profusely in his grandfather's library.

Essay on The Life and Works of Tennessee Williams

His maternal grandfather was an Episcopal rector, apparently a rather liberal and progressive individual. Even though there are several portraits of the clergy in Williams' later works, none seemed to be built on the personality of his real grandfather. Perhaps because his early life was spent in an atmosphere of genteel culture, the greatest shock to Williams was the move his family made when he was about twelve.

The father accepted a position in a shoe factory in St. Louis and moved the family from the expansive Episcopal home in the South to an ugly tenement building in St.

Tennessee Williams: Selected full-text books and articles

Their cramped apartment and the ugliness of the city life seemed to make a lasting impression on the boy. Here in school he was often ridiculed for his southern accent, and he was never able to find acceptance. Likewise, his father, who had been a traveling salesman, was suddenly at home most of the time. It was here in St. Louis that Williams' slightly older sister, Rose, began to cease to develop as a person and failed to cross over the barrier from childhood to adulthood. She, like Laura in The Glass Menagerie, began to live in her own world of glass ornaments.

Eventually, she had to be placed in an institution. She became the model for Laura Wingfield. The description of Laura's room, just across the alley from the Paradise Dance Club, is also a description of his sister's room. Laura's desire to lose herself from the world was a characteristic of his own sister. And both were seen by Williams as being shy, quiet, but lovely girls who were not able to cope with the modern world.

At the university he began to write more and discovered alcohol as a cure for his over-sensitive shyness.

After his third year, his father got him a position in the shoe factory. He worked there for two years; he later classified this time as the most miserable two years of his life.

Tennessee Williams lambasted his rivals as 'vampires' | Culture | The Guardian

He spent dreary days at the warehouse and then devoted his nights to writing poetry, plays, and short stories. After two years of working all day and writing all night, he had a nervous breakdown and went to Memphis, Tennessee, to recuperate with his grandfather, who had moved there after retirement.

His years of frustration and his dislike of the warehouse job are reflected directly in the character of Tom Wingfield, who followed essentially the same pattern that Williams himself followed. In fact, Tennessee gave this character his own first name, Tom. During all of this time, Tennessee had been winning small prizes for various types of writing, but nothing significant had yet been written.

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After his rest in Memphis, he returned to the university Washington University in St. Louis , where he became associated with a writers' group.

Tennessee Williams

His fellow playwrights are likened to "vampires" who leave "the stench smell of a rotting, overripe ego" on their productions. Tennessee Williams's vituperative comment is just one of his observations on writers, actors, directors and producers from the s onwards that will be published in a new biography. Although he had by then found fame with A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof , subsequent theatrical flops and the loss of his lover, Frank Merlo, to cancer exacerbated his descent into drink and drugs.

Thirty years after his death, Williams's plays are among the most produced in the world, but the unpublished typed sheets, with handwritten amendments, date from an era when his struggle to repeat the success of his classic hits meant that he had to invest his own money to get his plays seen. Broadway was no longer interested. In one of the unpublished manuscripts, Williams wrote of playwrights as "those unattractively awkward, embarrassed, graceless, blushing, fidgeting, shuffling, stammering, wretches". Elsewhere, he continued the tirade: "They are a bit like vampires.

They want to get out of the actors and the directors everything that they couldn't put into their scripts because they are all, nearly always, the fiendish beggars of the arts … the sort of beggars that won't take no for an answer, but shriek with all their abused and abusing vanities for more, more, more. Tennessee Williams: A Literary Life , which will be published this month, delves into the playwright's notebooks and papers. Its author, John Bak, drew on 1, pages of unpublished manuscripts.

Bak said in the mids critics lost the stomach for the kind of theatre violence with which Williams had made his name, and audiences wanted light comedies or moral American melodramas about family issues, such as those on primetime television. While Williams only named playwrights he respected, such as Pinter and Beckett, he does not identify those behind the commercial productions that he so detested. Audiences too come in for hiscriticism.

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