The last few days, I have been reading Tennessee Williams’s autobiography, called Memoirs. It has been so interesting so far, especially to me since he was born in Columbus, MS, an adorable southern town close to where I went to college.My favorite quote from the book is “My thing is what it always was: to express my world and my experience of it whatever form seems suitable to the material.” Tennessee’s autobiography was published in 1975 and was a very shocking book. Here is what the back cover says:
“For Tennessee Williams the past is always present. As he weaves his Memoirs, the playwright continually shifts and intermingles times and places-his childhood in Mississippi and St. Louis; his struggle as a “starving artist”; “overnight” success with The Glass Menagerie in 1945; the death of his long-time companion Frank Merlo in 1962; confinement to a psychiatric ward in 1969, and his subsequent recovery from alcohol and drug addiction in the 1970s. Of course Memoirs is also filled with amazing friends who Williams often hilariously-sometimes fondly, sometimes not-remembers: Laurette Taylor, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Elia Kazan, Marlon Brando, Vivian Leigh, Carson McCullers, Anna Magnani, Elizabeth Taylor, and Tallulah Bankhead to name just a few.
Much has changed in America since 1975 when Williams’s candor in Memoirs-about being a gay man, his love life, sexual encounters, and drug use-caused a bit of a scandal, but some things have not. Filmmaker John Waters provides much-needed perspective to this edition of Memoirs with a bold and witty introduction that is characterized by his undiluted admiration and respect for Tennessee Williams as an artist and a man. In addition, noted Williams scholar Allean Hale has contributed a brief afterword detailing a few of Williams’s more intriguing discrepancies.”
How can you not want to read this book? You can order any Tennessee Williams’s works from the publishers New Directions at www.ndpublishing.com. The cover art, which was designed by Sylvia Frezzolini Severance, comes from a photograph from the Billy Rose Theater Collection, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.