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Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams on March26 1911 in Columbus Mississippi He was the second of three children of Cornelius Coffin and Edwina Dakin Williams His early childhood was troubled with illnesses that left Tennessee a terminal hypochondriac throughout the rest of his life He turned to writing as a method of escaping the unhappiness that surrounded him His first published work was a response to an essay question that appeared in Smart Set magazine in 1927In 1929 Tennessee began college at the University of Missouri During this time he wrote poetry pledged a fraternity and began a life-long dependency with alcohol Upon failing ROTC in his junior year his father sent him to work in the International Shoe Company warehouse This experience was one of boredom and endless repetition that launched Tennessee into depression and eventually into a nervous breakdown Only after many years could he use this horrifying ordeal to be portrayed through the partially autobiographical character of Tom in The Glass MenagerieTennessee spent time recovering from the breakdown with his grandparents in Memphis It is during this time that he was introduced to drama His first attempt as a playwright was through a farce entitled Cairo Shanghai Bombay The play was performed by the Memphis Garden Players on July 12 1935 He was so captivated with theatre that he decided to enroll in Washington University and pursue writing as a career In 1937 Tennessees sister Rose was institutionalized as a schizophrenic He was extremely close to his sister and her hospitalization had a great affect on him He transferred to the University of Iowa and completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1938 After graduation Tennessee worked in sseveral places while continuing to write short stories poetry and playsThe decade of the 40s brought much recognition to the budding playwright of the era The Glass Menagerie is perhaps one of his most successful plays written in the 1940s The Battlefield
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