Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

Tennessee Williams is America’s greatest playwright. His plays, which have won multiple Pulitzer Prizes, include The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Rose Tattoo, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer, Sweet Bird of Youth, Camino Real, and The Night of the Iguana.

Tennessee’s family moved to St. Louis when he was eight. He attended the Eugene Field School, Soldan High, University City High, the University of Missouri in Columbia, the University of Iowa, and Washington University. He worked downtown at the International Shoe Company, where his father was an executive. He enjoyed the Tivoli, Forest Park, the Muny, and the City Art Museum. An artist of rare honesty, the adversities and joys of his coming of age in St. Louis shaped all of his work.

Williams was above all a brilliant poet, who wrote his plays as poetry. His critical reputation is in the ascendant, as chronicled by John Lahr in the new best-selling Williams biography. His creations—ranging from the famed classics, to adaptations for film and opera, to dozens of newly discovered plays and writings—have been continuously performed and studied around the world. 

Living in St. Louis: Tennessee Williams

He is one of the most famous people to have ever lived in St. Louis, yet there is barely a trace of his presence in the city. In fact, Tom Williams' time in St. Louis is better known for its ending, when he left the city and became Tennessee Williams, the acclaimed southern playwright.

Header Image Caption: Tennessee Williams with "birthday" cake for the 20th anniversary of "The Glass Menagerie" opening / World Telegram & Sun photo by O. Fernandez. No copyright restriction known. Staff photographer reproduction rights transferred to Library of Congress through Instrument of Gift.