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Tennessee Williams: A Great American Author.

2475 words - 10 pages

Tennessee WilliamsA Great American AuthorThomas Lanier Williams, born in Columbus, Mississippi to Edwina Dakin and Cornelius Coffin Williams, became one of the nations greatest playwrights. He was born on March 26, 1911 in his grandfather, Reverend Walter E. Dakin's, Episcopal Church. William's mother, Edwina, was a lively and colorful woman. She married a man whom contradicted her lifestyle. That man was Cornelius Williams, a gruff, pistol dueler with a violent temper. He was a lieutenant in the Spanish American War and a descendent from frontiersmen. Cornelius and Edwina married and continued to live in Mississippi. Cornelius had a job as a traveling salesman. Thomas became sick with diphtheria at age five which is how his love for literature bloomed. He lived in Mississippi until his family moved to St. Louis. The move was hard on him. The change from living in his grandfather's church to a tight tenement began to form a type of neuroses in Thomas. He spent most of his time with his mother and older sister Rose. His sister was also affected by the change; she became mentally ill due to fear and anxiety. Thomas also had a brother named Dakin. Williams's mother gave him the gift of a typewriter, which helped him hide from the world and express his feelings. He entered several contests and won cash prizes. His first published story was in a "pulp" magazine named Weird Tales. That summer, a trip to Europe with his grandfather and their parish, opened his eyes to the world. Until then he had seen very little of the country. That trip cemented Thomas's love for his grandfather, Reverend Dakin.Williams spent three years at the University of Missouri where he joined a fraternity, but flunked the ROTC to the dismay of his father. Tennessee, a nickname given to him by fraternity members, found that he was able to hide his shyness in alcohol. Due to depression, Tom took a sabbatical from college to work with his father in the shoe company. Hard days working in the warehouse and long nights spent typing, may have contributed to Williams's nervous breakdown. Tom spent a year with his grandfather in Memphis. Tennessee's grandmother financed his return to college at Washington University. While in college, his love for drama helped him write Cairo! Shanghai! Bombay! for the Rose Arbor theater group. During the next few years he wrote many plays and poems. At Washington University, Williams's was required to write a one-act play for a contest in his playwriting class. When he did not win, he reacted violently and left the university before the end of the year. He eventually returned to college where he graduated at the age of twenty-seven. Meanwhile, Rose had been suffering more than ever and her final trauma was induced by one of her father's alcoholic rages. Edwina signed the papers allowing Rose to be "tragically becalmed" by a prefrontal lobotomy. The rest of her life was spent mostly in sanatoriums and the occasional trip with her brother.After college,...

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