Tennessee Williams: Influences

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Tennesse Williams

Background Information
Thomas Lanier Williams
Born on the 26 March 1911, Columbus Mississippi
His father descended from “pioneer Tennessee Stock,” hence Williams’ adopted first name. •Diagnosed with Diphtheria aged 5 and nearly died.
It also caused his legs to be paralysed for 2 years so was encouraged to write by his mother. •Had one sister, Rose, who he was very close to. Rose was institutionalised and eventually incapacitated due to a lobotomy. •Wrote his first play “Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay!” as a teenager •Met his long term partner Frank Merlo in 1948 who passed away with lung cancer in 1963 •Suffered from depression, alcoholism and addiction to prescription drugs later in his life •Was briefly institutionalised in 1969

Died on 25th February 1986 after he choked on the lid of an eye drop bottle in his hotel room. •Due to his illness he was not as strong as his father (Cornelius Coffin) would have liked. •His mother Edwina was trapped in the unhappy marriage and focused and was thus over protective of Williams’ as she focused all her attention on him •Father was a violent man who suffered from alcohol issues and was a strong gambler •Williams’ was seen as weak and disdained by his father

Early Life
Attended the University of Missouri
His father didn’t approve of him wanting to be an author and made him leave after his 1st year and become a shoe maker •The only thing he wanted to do was to be a writer as it offered and escape from the real world and thus became sleep deprived leading to him having a nervous breakdown and a heart condition •His father eventually agreed to let him go to the University of Washington were he got some of his papers published but didn’t win the writing contest so decided to quit •He then went to the University of Iowa were his nickname was ‘Tennessee’ which he decided to keep •Due to their Southern speech and manners and also background of poverty Williams’ and his older...
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