Talk:Tennessee Williams

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Gay Bashing[edit]

Is Gay Bashing really a PC way of putting it? I'm from the UK so maybe it is different in the US? 22:47, 14 July 2006 (UTC) no. BECAUSE ALIENS DONT WEAR HATS, STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPIDDDDDDD!! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:39, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Poor Quality[edit]

I was struck by the poor quality of this page for such an important figure, what is writing like "For two years he could do almost nothing. His mother wasn't going to allow him to waste his time, so she encouraged him to use his imagination a lot. When he was thirteen, his mother gave him a typewriter." doing on Wikipedia? Also, "Genre critics maintain that Williams writes in the Southern Gothic style." seems non-neutral to me.

Agreed, the former sounds very personal; the latter breaks WP:WEASEL. Ah well. - THE GREAT GAVINI {T-C} 20:31, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Agreed 05:08, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, the writing appears amateur and has no basis in fact as far as I can tell.
Agreed. The reference for the Southern Gothic is an Oprah website that is mostly about prose writers, not even theater critics. We have to do better than that. The article hardly "maintain"s; it just lists Williams along with a batch of other writers who are given more coverage.--Parkwells 17:52, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

It's the end of 2008, and this article is still awful. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:16, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Agreed, this article is poorly written, full of unimportant details, inaccurcies, and lacking in comprehensiveness. Considering the subject is one of the three or four most important American playwrights, it's a disgrace. GillArtsNY, 5 Jan 2010

I'd agree the quality of the article is sorely lacking, and does no justice to the subject. Have tried some initial, minor edits, but there's a mountain to climb here. Spread the message! Ceadge (talk) 17:43, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Well, after complaining about the quality of this article over a year ago, I've just spent a few hours this morning - Williams' 100th birthday - editing and cleaning up things. The Career section needs expansion, presently it doesn't cover much of anything after 1959 so I'll return to it when I have more time. I am emphatically not an expert on his work, so I haven't touched that section at all. Someone with more knowledge than I should do it.Gillartsny (talk) 15:54, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

RalfiParpa apparently has a problem with describing TW as "a renowned American playwright widely considered to be one of the finest in the history of the theater." If I'm writing an article about the sky, do I have to defend the assertion that it is blue? Ridiculous. And if it's going to be changed, at least substitute something gracefully written. What was there is like saying he was a salesman who worked primarily selling vacuum cleaners door to door!Gillartsny (talk) 19:27, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

I agree that the more descriptive words are useful and accurate. The problem is that without any comparable descriptions in the body, and supporting sources, it could be treated as personal opinions. We should find some material to reinforce the body and back up the essay style for part of the article. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 20:13, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
There is clear guidance about this at WP:PEACOCK. And I agree with Wikiwatcher1 that we need more material and at least one quote (from authoritative sources) to back up description like this. - Artoasis (talk) 03:43, 31 March 2011 (UTC)


Adopted redirect for Google: Thomas Lanier Williams


The name “Tennessee” was a name he adopted from his father's background in Tennessee.
But the BooksFactory bio (external link) says: Williams's Deep South accent and poverty made him a target of his schoolmates and earned him later from his university [of Missouri] classmates the nickname ‘Tennessee’.
Who’s right? Is it even possible to know? Frungi 01:06, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

Even if it is true, there is no point in referencing his father if you don't spell out exactly what is his father's background in Tennessee. Did his father sell in Tennessee? The article doesn't say. Also, I think the section about his critics being homophobes is slightly biased. Knapster2005 14:07, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
IF anyone has read his memoirs, the section about students at Missouri giving him the nickname seems a bit false. Williams states plainly that it is from his father's connection in East Tennessee, and his family connection with the first governor of Tennessee and the first man to oversee the Tennessee territory before it became a state. Liontamarin 20:04, 6 May 2007 (UTC)
If we look at Lyle Leverich's biography (which has been widely known to be the definitive biograph of TW since its publication in '95), he writes that there have been "many versions of how Tom became known as Tenneseee..." (274). Probably the best thing we can do is use the story Leverich uses-- Williams was on his way to New York to meet his agent Audrey Wood, when on the way he'd decided to go to New Orleans instead. But before going to New Orleans, he decided to send a manuscript of a collection of one-act plays entitled American Blues into a playwriting contest by the Group Theater (for which he later won a $ 100- I think- award). When he sent these plays off, he altered his birthdate by three years because of an age restriction on the contest. As a result, he decided to create a nomme de plume. He signed the application, "Tennessee Williams." Later, when he arrived in New Orleans, he signed into his room as Tennessee, and the rest, as they say.... (This last little bit is anecdotal from a prof. of mine who is a renowned TW expert.)HomelessRobles (talk) 03:53, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

Category: ppl diagnosed with clinical depression[edit]

Michael David and I have been having a discussion on one anothers' talk pages about the rights and wrongs of including Williams in the people diagnosed with clinical depression category. My evidence for including him is as follows:

  • Autobiographical evidence: Williams discussed his "decade-long episode of depression" in his own memoirs
  • Biographical evidence: ...and it's been in his biographies, too.
  • At least one academic paper exists written by clinicians which reviews his psychiatric history, and includes: "we believe that sufficient evidence exists to suggest that Williams probably had major depressive episodes at age 25, 35, 46, and 52 years". The article also acknowledges the problems of attempting such diagnoses.
  • Williams is known to have received psychotherapy for his depression.
  • ...and to have taken antidepressants.

I believe that this merits his inclusion in the category. Given that we are unlikely to persuade him to nip round with a letter from his doctor, largely because he's dead, I think it's entirely appropriate in a project such as this to categorise people as suffering from conditions where that is supported by historical evidence and their own personal discussions of the topic. Nmg20 01:44, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree.--Parkwells 17:48, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
I would add that his play Suddenly Last Summer was a result entirely of his extended analysis with Dr.Lawrence Kubie-- it is something widely known to TW scholars. Williams was in analysis with Kubie right after Rose (his sister) had her lobotomy. In the sessions, Kubie encouraged Williams to stop writing and urged him to attempt to "cure" his homosexuality. Here's one source that might help: [1]HomelessRobles (talk) 04:02, 5 December 2008 (UTC)


I'm glad to see that template for all the plays, but right now it's awfully difficult to look at. Even if it's necessary to include every play and screenplay he ever wrote (and I'm not sure it is, since many of these don't even have articles yet), is it possible to subdivide it by, say, full-length plays, screenplays, one acts, etc.? Unless all these are full-length already, in which case, I'll happily shut up... -- 04:14, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

The Fugitive Kind 1937[edit]

Tennessee's 1937 play was not called "The Fugitive Kind" that was the name of the movie, starring Marlon Brondo, adapted from the play "Orpheus Descending" it was later re-worked and re-published as "A Battle of Angels." Within the list of plays the title should be "Orpheus Descending"


--- The above text is wrong. "A Battle of Angels" was rewritten and published as "Orpheus Descending." Whoever edited this earlier was mistaken. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:31, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

Tennessee Topics Template[edit]

Why is there a template of Tennessee topics at the bottom of the page? Williams is not really, in any way, part of Tennessee (other than in name an in family history, but only in this way is he vaguely connected). Has someone made a very stupid error or is it sly vandalism? Liontamarin 21:47, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Went ahead and made the correction. It just didn't seem appropriate and didn't figure it should stay. Liontamarin 21:50, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

"Citation Needed" for Rose's influence on Williams's writing?[edit]

The common "mad heroine" theme that appears in many of his plays may have been influenced by his sister. This is marked with a "citation needed" tag, but I'm wondering why, since, if the information about Williams's closeness to Rose, her mental illness, and subsequent lobotomy allowed by her parents is all true, the rest seems sort of empirical. It seems self-evident to me, at least in terms of "Suddenly Last Summer," that Catherine Holly's predicament seemed to shadow that of Williams's sister, Rose. I would think that, if someone had instead added to the article that Williams had not been creatively influenced by his family, a citation would have been needed, since so many of his characters and their dramatic contexts seem relatively to have dynamics, personalities, and challenges germane to Williams's own experiences and family members. Since the statement above is tagged with "citation needed," though, I'm now wondering if I misunderstand the necessity for a citation in the context of an article?

Help me out!

Sugarbat 16:16, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

It's all in that word "appears" - this is not a fact, but speculation. Don't get me wrong, that speculation may be very valid in terms of the circumstantial evidence, but you need to be explicit that it is speculation only. It also needs to be not just something a wikipedia editor thinks, but something the best known critics or biographers of Tennessee Williams think, demonstrated with citation - then it will have better validity. Ceadge (talk) 09:38, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Interpretive dispute? Or factual error?[edit]

"His mother, Edwina Dakin Williams, was a descendant of a genteel southern family,..."

She was born in Ohio, and died in Missouri. The Dakin line were originally Quakers, from New York. Nothing very southern about them. I don't have a reference (other than my own family Gedcom), or I would go ahead and make the change myself. --Anthon.Eff 16:29, 9 September 2007

If she grew up in southern Ohio and TN, the family may have adopted southern attitudes. Many people in southern Ohio shared culture with those in KY. Were her parents from NY, or was it further back than that? Quakers lived in the South, too. Some Quakers in Tidewater VA were active in manumitting slaves after the Revolutionary War, but they may have lived other southern values.--Parkwells 17:47, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
I've retitled this section. I'm by no means a Williams scholar, but my impression is that whether myth or fact, there is a widespread sense, perhaps an unwarranted assumption, perhaps a reflection of TW's own personal mythmaking, that he came from something like former Southern aristocracy. Nailing any verifiable facts is certainly important, but what are the standards, if any, when it comes to conveying both whatever facts can be documented without contest, and those possibly distorted stories of Williams' origins that certainly have some bearing on his work? I'd contend that any definitive statements about these facts and myths need to be supported in a well-balanced way (if that's possible) and with credible supporting references, at the very least, rather than deductions based on personal experience or one's own family upbringing and arguments from the authority of one's parents.
But, I'm posting this as an open question, in light of my less than deep engagement in Wikiculture, and my lack of expertise on Williams' biographical details. — Ebbixx (talk) 00:32, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

"One Arm Date?[edit]

I have one source that says one arm was written in the 40's

amazon has it listed as published in 1950,

and this article says 67.

can someone update that? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kactapuss (talkcontribs) 01:32, 9 October 2007 (UTC)


The article needs work with copy editing, sourcing and reorganizing. The discussion of autobiographical elements and other aspects of the plays should be given separate treatment from the events of his life. It's confusing. I made a start.--Parkwells 17:43, 14 November 2007 (UTC)


I added Hart Crane to the influences section on the side, since A) It says right in the article that he was one of his most profound influences and B) Williams said many times that Hart Crane was one of his biggest influences. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:52, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Trivia? Leave until this article is vetted[edit]

I don't understand why every wannabe unknown and overrated hype monger is included here simply because they referenced Tennessee in their work. Let's knock this off. Talk is cheap. So who needs it? He was far greater in every aspect, and deserves a well-sourced bio. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Telegrapher52 (talkcontribs) 05:51, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Convertion to catholicism[edit]

Nothing in the article about he's convertion? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:21, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

His "conversion" to Catholicism, facilitated by his brother Dakin after Tenn had just OD'd and was in rehab... it is important, but from what I understand, he only did it to appease his brother, not because of any profound religious experience. Either way, it is an interesting thing to include, though I can't point to any source one way or another, I'll keep an eye out. HomelessRobles (talk) 04:11, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

Date for his death[edit]

In the article we have two different dates that indicate his death, which are 24 and 25 of February! Citing source is needed! --Kaaveh (talk) 19:07, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Where's A List of His Plays???[edit]

What possible good does it do anyone to have a list of "Collected Works" listed where there should be a list of each play (or major or minor works, with the appropriate link to each.

The dating of “Nitocris”[edit]

At “Nitocris”, it is claimed

Tennessee Williams' first published work is the 1928 short story The Vengeance of Nitocris, detailing the queen's careful plan for revenge. She makes the people who slew her brother die in a fitting way.

This does not perfectly contradict the claim in this article that

In 1927, at age 16, Williams won third prize (five dollars) for an essay published in Smart Set entitled, "Can a Good Wife Be a Good Sport?" A year later, he published "The Vengeance of Nitocris" in Weird Tales.

if Smart Set didn't publish the story for a bit more than a year after it awarded the prize, but the suggestion is that one of these reports is in error. —SlamDiego←T 22:04, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Copyright problem[edit]


This article has been reverted by a bot to this version as part of a large-scale clean-up project of multiple article copyright infringement. (See the investigation subpage) This has been done to remove User:Accotink2's contributions as they have a history of extensive copyright violation and so it is assumed that all of their major contributions are copyright violations. Earlier text must not be restored, unless it can be verified to be free of infringement. For legal reasons, Wikipedia cannot accept copyrighted text or images borrowed from other web sites or printed material; such additions must be deleted. Contributors may use sources as a source of information, but not as a source of sentences or phrases. Accordingly, the material may be rewritten, but only if it does not infringe on the copyright of the original or plagiarize from that source. Please see our guideline on non-free text for how to properly implement limited quotations of copyrighted text. Wikipedia takes copyright violations very seriously. VWBot (talk) 14:25, 10 December 2010 (UTC)


Regardless of what the reports said at the time, it is possible that Williams's death was a suicide? It's very mysterious to just have a bottle cap lodged in your throat like that. Since no one was with Williams when he died, no one really knows whether or not his death was a suicide. Thus, I think the possibility of suicide should be mentioned in the part about his death. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:40, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately, this would be original research. Sorry. TheStickMan[✆Talk] 02:17, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Can I at least mention that no one was with him when he died and that it is thus unknown how that bottle cap got into his throat for sure? Those are facts, not original research. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:21, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

That, and much more, are covered in the New York Times article cited. The section already has too many unsourced statements. --Wikiwatcher1 (talk) 01:15, 21 March 2011 (UTC)


If he was seven when the family moved to St. Louis, then he didn't "first" attend Soldan High School. He would have been in grade school. Also, the family first lived in the west-central portion of St. Louis City (hence the attendance at Soldan, which is a city high school), and later moved to University City, a nearby suburb.

I don't want to make the changes without proper cites. I know there is at least one biography that documents the different places he lived (including addresses) and schools he attended in St. Louis, because I read it years ago, but I don't have time to look it up again. It's out there, though, for a more enterprising person to find. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mr dna2003 (talkcontribs) 14:00, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

There's a ton of stuff in St. Louis about him attending Soldan including the note about him on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. This site notes he had 29 different homes in St. Louis. Moving around that much would sure make it more believeable he was in the Soldan area at some point.Americasroof (talk) 14:25, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for your eagle eye. I have clarified the wording on the article.Americasroof (talk) 16:03, 25 March 2011 (UTC)


The Audrey Wood linked in the "Career" paragraph is not the agent, but a children's book author. The childen's author was born in 1948, according to her Wiki bio, at least. Sources such as the agent's obituary[2] show that she started her agency in 1937, so I think it's safe to say these are different people.

I've not yet edited the entry, mainly because it will take some time, as an infrequent contributor, for me to ensure I'm following correct form. I hope it's needless to say that this influential agent needs her own entry. Non-authoritative sources include the New York Times article documenting the dedication of the Audrey Wood Theater in 1984,[3] current status of the theater itself unknown to me. Time permitting I may try to draft a fresh bio, once I've read her autobiography, Represented by Audrey Wood (1981). — Ebbixx (talk) 21:16, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

For shame[edit]

How does an article get hundreds of edits over 8 months, with lots of action on the talk page, and nobody notices that the list of plays has gotten lost in a vandal fighting mishap? When obscure articles that nobody looks at very much get screwed up for long periods of time, that's one thing, but this article? That kind of thing is just embarrassing for the whole project. john k (talk) 16:31, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

It happens. TheStickMan[✆Talk] 03:34, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

Columbus family home[edit]

"The Williams family home in Columbus, Mississippi, was recently renovated and reopened." Recently I've been to the "Tennessee Williams Welcome Center" in Columbus, MS, the house this refers to. Not only was the house renovated, it was moved from its original location. It can be visited and contains some TW memorabilia. [1] I'm not an experienced editor and English is not my first language, so I hope someone with more experience can edit / add this entry. Imke2u (talk) 07:59, 13 September 2011 (UTC)


Why "Mexican"?[edit]

No expert here, I can't figure out why the infobox lists his nationality as "Mexican", when the body of the article lists no link between Williams and Mexico at all. (talk) 03:05, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

That's an error. He wasn't Mexican at all. Futurist110 (talk) 01:40, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

Cause of Death[edit]

In a lot of sources, it says that Tennessee Williams choked to death on a bottle cap (an extremely depressing way to die), but I've also read that he died of acute seconal intolerance here:

These links/sources suggest that the bottle cap story was invented in order to avoid negative media coverage and that the coroner, Elliot Gross, quietly corrected his report six months afterwards. Heck, even this Wikipedia article--Secobarbital--supports the seconal intolerance claim. My question is, how did Tennessee Williams actually die? Futurist110 (talk) 01:40, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

Digging a little deeper, the book Unnatural Death by Michael Baden is cited as a source in that last blog link of mine. I checked this book and it appears to be pretty reliable. Also, Elliot Gross (if this is the person of the same name) was accused of incompetency several times (,,,, Therefore, Gross lying about Tennessee Williams's death might not have been entirely implausible. Futurist110 (talk) 02:24, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Larry Myers's credentials look legit ( I wonder if the revised report for Tennessee Williams's death (if it ever existed) can be found somewhere. That should resolve this whole dispute. Futurist110 (talk) 02:56, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

TW as Poet ?[edit]

Is it appropriate to add a section about TW's career as a poet? He published two collections, and his poems remain in print in a 2007 edition from New Directions[1]. The Poetry Foundation bio[2] cites instances in which Williams's "poetic" writing was a factor in the critical reception of his plays. And in the Paris Review interview[3] TW says plainly "I’m a poet. And then I put the poetry in the drama. I put it in short stories, and I put it in the plays." Also related is this 26-minute audio recording of TW reading his poetry.Lleksahr.lo (talk) 16:26, 11 June 2013 (UTC)


Style of his later works[edit]

You say that his later works were written in a different style, that audiences didn't respond to. Can you give some idea what this new style was like? Valetude (talk) 13:53, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

Jewish? I never heard that before[edit]

Someone has added "Jewish" to his ancestry. While I wouldn't call myself an expert on Williams, I have read extensively about him (pretty much all the biographies, including his mother's) and I can find no such reliably sourced claim. In fact, Williams' letters are full of casually anti-Semitic remarks, but no more than might be expected from someone of his generation and background. In any case, Jewish ancestry is pretty unlikely and so I'm removing it unless someone can provide a citation. Incidentally, I am 1/4 Jewish myself, so no claims of race/religion bias, please.Gillartsny (talk) 14:59, 8 November 2015 (UTC)

I do not readily have the genealogy from Tennessee Williams back to John Lanier; however, Lanier Family Tree in Wikipedia reports a direct connection. Going back further in the tree, one can see that John Lanier was a child of Clement Lanier. Clement Lanier was the child of Nicholas the Elder Lanier and Lucretia Bassano. Lucretia is the daughter of Anthony Bassano and the granddaughter of Jeronimo Bassano. There are cited claims in the Jeronimo Bassino article in Wikipedia. While some researchers say the family was Jewish, another says they were converted Jews. Specifically, in the Project Continua: Women Who Persist article on Aemilia Lanyer, also descended from Jeronimo, she is called a Marrano Jew. So the Jewish ancestry is true, but perhaps it is too far back to be included without a paragraph on the topic. It could be something along the lines of ... Evan though Williams had a distant Jewish background, he wrote ... I don't know if you could find this idea, but I bet he did not even know of the fact. You would have to include the Lanier family history. The Bassanos and the Laniers were musicians for Henry VIII among others. Could be an artist thing. I do not plan to write a section on this fact, but it might be a challenging idea for someone who is interested. JKWS13 (talk) 13:32, 12 July 2016 (UTC)

This seems a little out of place...[edit]

I am new to editing and must confess that I am no expert on William's but "Williams found his classes boring, however, and was distracted by his unrequited love for a girl" doesn't seem to add up given that it is not mentioned anywhere that Williams wasn't homosexual. It seems to me that either relevant citations need to be found or the statement should be removed. Ahamletlostnamedgatsby (talk) 21:09, 11 April 2016 (UTC)