Notebooks - Williams, Tennessee; Thornton, Margaret Bradham - Yale University Press

Literary Studies
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  • Tennessee Williams; Edited by Margaret Bradham Thornton
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Winner of the Bronze ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in Autobiography/Memoir Category

Winner of the C. Hugh Holman Prize for the best volume of southern literary scholarhip published in 2006, given by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature.

Tennessee Williams’s Notebooks, here published for the first time, presents by turns a passionate, whimsical, movingly lyrical, self-reflective, and completely uninhibited record of the life of this monumental American genius from 1936 to 1981, the year of his death. In these pages Williams (1911-1981) wrote out his most private thoughts as well as sketches of plays, poems, and accounts of his social, professional, and sexual encounters. The notebooks are the repository of Williams’s fears, obsessions, passions, and contradictions, and they form possibly the most spontaneous self-portrait by any writer in American history.

Meticulously edited and annotated by Margaret Thornton, the notebooks follow Williams’ growth as a writer from his undergraduate days to the publication and production of his most famous plays, from his drug addiction and drunkenness to the heights of his literary accomplishments. At one point, Williams writes, “I feel dull and disinterested in the literary line. Dr. Heller bores me with all his erudite discussion of literature. Writing is just writing! Why all the fuss about it?” This remarkable record of the life of Tennessee Williams is about writing—how his writing came up like a pure, underground stream through the often unhappy chaos of his life to become a memorable and permanent contribution to world literature.

Margaret Bradham Thornton is a writer and independent scholar based in Bedminster, New Jersey.