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A compendium of queer people in the 19th and 20th centuries // Drawn and researched by Michele Rosenthal

Tennessee  Williams

Tennessee Williams 1911to –1983

Celebrated American playwright and screenwriter, known for The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof among others. He had a difficult childhood in the south, where he grew up with an abusive father, an overbearing mother, and a loving sister who was eventually institutionalized. His dysfunctional family became the inspiration for much of his work, and The Glass Menagerie, which brought him to fame, was mostly autobiographical. Throughout his life, his homosexuality was an open secret, and publicly confirmed in the post-Stonewall era. Many of his short stories and plays deal with gay themes directly, though rarely in a positive light, which reflected Williams’ own dissatisfaction with being gay. At the height of his career, he created a string of successful plays, adapting many of them into award-winning films. Sadly, his later life was marked by drugs, alcohol, and depression at the death of his longtime partner, Frank Merlo.

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