A Streetcar Named Desire

Topics: Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley Kowalski Pages: 26 (8089 words) Published: May 15, 2013

A Streetcar named Desire

Tennessee Williams



Titel:A Streetcar named Desire and Other Plays
Auteur:Tennessee Williams
Uitgeverij:Penguin Classics

Biografie en bibliografie auteur

Tennessee Willams (1911 – 1983)

Playwright, poet, and fiction writer, Tennessee Williams left a powerful mark on American theatre. At their best, his twenty-five full-length plays combined lyrical intensity, haunting loneliness, and hypnotic violence. He is widely considered the greatest Southern playwright and one of the greatest playwrights in the history of American drama.

Born Thomas Lanier Williams on March 26, 1911, he suffered through a difficult and troubling childhood. His father, Cornelius Williams, was a shoe salesman and an emotionally absent parent. He became increasingly abusive as the Williams children grew older. His mother, Edwina, was the daughter of

Southern Episcopal minister and had lived the adolescence and young womanhood of a spoiled Southern belle. Williams was sickly as a child, and his mother was a loving but smothering woman. In 1918 the family moved from Mississippi to St. Louis, and the change from a small provincial town to a big city was very difficult for William¹s mother. Williams had an older sister named Rose and a younger brother named Walter. Rose was emotionally and mentally unstable, and her illnesses had a great influence on Thomas¹s life and work.

In 1929, Williams enrolled in the University of Missouri. After two years he dropped out of school, compelled to do so by his father, and took a job in the warehouse of the same shoe company for which his father worked. He was an employee there for ten months, despising the job but working at the warehouse throughout the day and writing late into the night. The strain was too much, and Williams had a nervous breakdown. He recovered at the home of his grandparents, and during these years he continued to write. Amateur productions of his early plays were put on in Memphis and St. Louis. During this time, Rose¹s mental health continued to deteriorate. During a fight between Cornelius and Edwina, Cornelius made a move towards Rose that he claimed was meant to calm her. Rose thought his overtures were sexual and suffered a terrible breakdown. Her parents had her lobotomized shortly afterward.

Williams went back to school and graduated from the University of Iowa in 1938. He then moved to New Orleans, where he changed his name to Tennessee. Having struggled with his sexuality all through his youth, he now fully entered gay life, with a new name, a new home, and promising talent. That same year, he won a prize for American Blues, a collection of one-act plays. In 1940, Battle of Angels (later rewritten as Orpheus Descending), his first full-length and professionally produced play, failed miserably. Tennessee Williams continued to struggle. 1944-1945 brought a great turning point in his life and career: The Glass Menagerie was produced in Chicago to great success, and shortly afterward was a smash hit on Broadway. While success freed Williams financially, it also made it difficult for him to write. He went to Mexico to work on a play originally titled The Poker Night. This play eventually became one of his masterpieces, A Streetcar Named Desire. It won Williams a Pulitzer Prize in 1947, which enabled him to travel and buy a home in Key West, a new base to which Williams could escape for both relaxation and writing. Around this time, Williams met Frank Merlo. The two fell in love, and the young man became Williams¹ romantic partner until Merlo¹s untimely death in 1961. He was a steadying influence on Williams, who suffered from depression and lived in fear that he, like his sister Rose, would go insane.

These years were some of Williams¹ most productive. His plays were...
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