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Thomas Lanier Williams was born on March 26 1911 in Columbus Mississippi The second of three children his family life was full of tension His parents a shoe salesman and the daughter of a minister often engaged in violent arguments that frightened his sister RoseIn 1927 Williams got his first taste of literary fame when he took third place in a national essay contest sponsored by The Smart Set magazine In 1929 he was admitted to the University of Missouri where he saw a production of Henrik Ibsens Ghosts and decided to become a playwrightBut his degree was interrupted when his father forced him to withdraw from college and work at the International Shoe Company There he worked with a young man named Stanley Kowalski who would later resurface as a character in A Streetcar Named DesireEventually Tom returned to school In 1937 he had two of his plays Candles to the Sunand The Fugitive Kind produced by Mummers of St Louis and in 1938 he graduated from the University of Iowa After failing to find work in Chicago he moved to New Orleans and changed his name from Tom to Tennessee which was the state of his fathers birthIn 1939 the young playwright received a 1000 Rockefeller Grant and a year later Battle of Angels was produced in Boston In 1944 what many consider to be his best play The Glass Menagerie had a very successful run in Chicago and a year later burst its way onto Broadway The play tells the story of Tom his disabled sister Laura and their controlling mother Amanda who tries to make a match between Laura and the gentleman caller Many people believe that Tennessee used his own familial relationships as inspiration for the play His own mother who is often compared to the controlling Amanda allowed doctors to perform a frontal lobotomy on Tennessees sister Rose an event that greatly disturbed Williams who cared for Rose throughout
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