The Real Story Of Playwright Tennessee Williams

This program was originally broadcast on September 25, 2014.

Great American playwright Tennessee Williams’ battle for art and sanity – a big new biography brings his story alive.

Playwright Tennessee Williams attends a memorial service for poet Dylan Thomas in 1953. (Library of Congress)
Playwright Tennessee Williams attends a memorial service for poet Dylan Thomas in 1953. (Library of Congress)


John Lahr, writer and former senior drama critic at the New Yorker. Author of the new book, "Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgramage of the Flesh." Also author of "Notes on a Cowardly Lion," among others. (@JohnLahrwriter)

From Tom's Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Book Review: 'Tennessee Williams' by John Lahr — "This is by far the best book ever written about America's greatest playwright. John Lahr, the longtime drama critic for the New Yorker, knows his way around Broadway better than anyone. He is a witty and elegant stylist, a scrupulous researcher, a passionate yet canny advocate. But 'Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh' is not exactly what its title page claims it is—a biography."

New York Times: The Kindness of a Stranger — "Yes, Tennessee Williams was my childhood friend. I yearned for a bad influence and boy, was Tennessee one in the best sense of the word: joyous, alarming, sexually confusing and dangerously funny. I didn’t quite 'get' 'Desire and the Black Masseur' when I read it in 'One Arm,' but I hoped I would one day."

The Independent: John Lahr on his dazzling biography of Tennessee Williams — "Often, reading this biography, which begins with the huge success of The Glass Menagerie in 1945, you aren’t quite sure whether to laugh or cry, such is Williams’s tendency to squander the goodness given to him and yet to wrest winning grace and humour from his humiliations. By the time of his death in a hotel room in 1983, the man who had bagged a couple of Pulitzer Prizes – for Streetcar in 1947 and for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955 – had not had a major Broadway hit since Night of the Iguana in 1961."

Read An Excerpt Of "Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrammage Of the Flesh" By John Lahr

This program aired on December 29, 2015. The audio for this program is not available.


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