Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams, a native of Mississippi, was one of the more complex individuals on the American literary scene of the mid- 20th century. His work focused on disturbed emotions and unresolved sexuality within families -- most of them southern. He was known for incantatory repetitions, a poetic southern diction, weird Gothic settings, and Freudian exploration of sexual desire. One of the first American writers to live openly as a homosexual, Williams explained that the sexuality of his tormented characters expressed their loneliness. His characters live and suffer intensely.

Williams wrote more than 20 full-length dramas, many of them autobiographical. He reached his peak relatively early in his career -- in the 1940s -- with The Glass Menagerie (1944) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1947). None of the works that followed over the next two decades and more reached the level of success and richness of those two pieces.