Tennessee Williams

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Tennessee Williams (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983) born Thomas Lanier Williams, was an American playwright who received many of the top theatrical awards for his works of drama. After he moved from St. Louis to New Orleans in 1939, he changed his first name to "Tennessee", the Southeastern U.S. state and his father's birthplace.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955. In addition, The Glass Menagerie (1944 in Chicago, 1945 in New York) and The Night of the Iguana (1961) received New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards. His 1952 play The Rose Tattoo received the Tony Award for best play. In 1980 he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.



In 1939, the young playwright received a $1,000 Rockefeller Grant. His play Battle of Angels was produced in Boston in 1940, but was poorly received. (Later he reworked it and produced it in New York to better success.)

Williams moved to New Orleans in 1939 to write for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which helped artists and writers survive during the Great Depression, as well as staffing major public works projects. He lived for a time in the French Quarter; first at 722 Toulouse Street, the setting of his 1977 play Vieux Carré. (The building is now part of The Historic New Orleans Collection.)

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