Tennessee Williams

(1911 - 1983)

Born Thomas Lanier Williams III in Mississippi, the playwright Tennessee Williams became instantly famous at thirty-three after the premiere of his play The Glass Menagerie. His other plays, for which he won two Pulitzers and a Tony Award, include A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, Suddenly Last Summer, and The Night of the Iguana. He was found dead in a Manhattan hotel at age seventy-one after reportedly choking on the cap for a nasal spray or eye drop bottle. He noted in his will that he wanted to be buried at sea near the spot where poet Hart Crane jumped off a boat and disappeared; his brother instead buried him in Missouri.

All Writing

We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal.

—Tennessee Williams, 1953

Everyone should know nowadays the unimportance of the photographic in art—that truth, life, or reality is an organic thing which the poetic imagination can represent or suggest, in essence, only through transformation, through changing into other forms than those which were merely present in appearance.

—Tennessee Williams, 1944


Sherwood Anderson died in 1941 of peritonitis, having swallowed a toothpick at a party. He was sixty-four. Tennessee Williams choked to death on a plastic eye-drop cap at a hotel in 1983. He was seventy-one.

Revolution begins in putting on bright colors.

—Tennessee Williams, 1944

Time rushes toward us with its hospital tray of infinitely varied narcotics, even while it is preparing us for its inevitably fatal operation.

—Tennessee Williams, 1951

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