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Playwright poet and fiction writer Tennessee Williams left a powerful mark on American theatre At their best his twenty-five full-length plays combined lyrical intensity haunting loneliness and hypnotic violence He is widely considered the greatest Southern playwright and one of the greatest playwrights in the history of American drama Born Thomas Lanier Williams on March 26 1911 he suffered through a difficult and troubling childhood His father Cornelius Williams was a shoe salesman and an emotionally absent parent He became increasingly abusive as the Williams children grew older His mother Edwina was the daughter of Southern Episcopal minister and had lived the adolescence and young womanhood of a spoiled Southern belle Williams was sickly as a child and his mother was a loving but smothering woman In 1918 the family moved from Mississippi to St Louis and the change from a small provincial town to a big city was very difficult for Williams mother Williams had an older sister named Rose and a younger brother named Walter Rose was emotionally and mentally unstable and her illnesses had a great influence on Thomass life and work In 1929 Williams enrolled in the University of Missouri After two years he dropped out of school compelled to do so by his father and took a job in the warehouse of the same shoe company for which his father worked He was an employee there for ten months despising the job but working at the warehouse throughout the day and writing late into the night The strain was too much and Williams had a nervous breakdown He recovered at the home of his grandparents and during these years he continued to write Amateur productions of his early plays were put on in Memphis and St Louis During this time Roses mental health continued to deteriorate During a fight between Cornelius and Edwina Cornelius made a move towards Rose that he claimed was meant to calm her Rose thought his
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