Lots of writers are eager to write their breakthrough novel, for fame or riches. Some want to tell their family’s story, or their own. Some enjoy the lesser commitment involved in short stories. Lots enjoy the challenge of telling a story through the expressive language of poetry. But you don’t find many writers who make writing plays their primary medium. But it definitely worked for Tennessee Williams.
While in college, Williams wrote a play called Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay! which was produced by a community theater in Missouri. He said of the experience, “The laughter…enchanted me. Then and there the theater and I found each other for better and for worse. I know it’s the only thing that saved my life.”
Although Williams wrote close to 30 major plays, the period between 1944 and 1961 saw his most celebrated and honored writing. Some of the works created during that period include:
The Glass Menagerie (1944) • A Streetcar Named Desire (Pulitzer Prize for Drama – 1947) • Summer and Smoke (1948) • The Rose Tattoo (Tony Award – 1952) Camino Real (1953) • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony Award – 1955) • Suddenly, Last Summer (1958) • Sweet Bird of Youth (1959) • The Night of the Iguana (1961).
Jimmy Carter presented Tennessee Williams with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.