The definitive biography of America’s greatest playwright, told by the longtime drama critic of the New Yorker
John Lahr has produced a theater biography like no other. Tennessee
Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh gives intimate access to the mind of
one of the most brilliant dramatists of his century, whose plays reshaped the
American theater and the nation’s sense of itself. This astute, deeply
researched biography sheds light on Tennessee Williams’ warring family, his
guilt, his creative triumphs and failures, his sexuality and numerous affairs,
his misreported death, and even the shenanigans surrounding his estate.
With vivid cameos from the formative influences in Williams’ life—his fierce, belittling father
Cornelius; his puritanical, domineering mother Edwina; his demented sister
Rose, who was lobotomized at the age of thirty-three; his beloved grandfather,
the Reverend Walter Dakin—Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh
is as much a biography of the man who created A Streetcar Named Desire, The
Glass Menagerie, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as it is a trenchant
exploration of Williams’ plays and the tortured process of bringing them to
stage and screen.
The portrait of
Williams himself is unforgettable: a virgin until he was twenty-six, he had
serial homosexual affairs thereafter, as well as longtime, bruising
relationships with Pancho Gonzalez and Frank Merlo. With compassion and verve,
Lahr explores how Williams’ relationships informed his work and how the
resulting success brought turmoil to his personal life.
Lahr captures not just
Williams’ tempestuous public persona but also his backstage life. His
agent, Audrey Wood, and director Elia Kazan play major roles, and Marlon
Brando, Anna Magnani, Bette Davis, Maureen Stapleton, Diana Barrymore, and
Tallulah Bankhead have scintillating walk-on parts. This is a biography of the
highest order: a book about the major American playwright of his time written
by the major American drama critic of his time. Download and start listening now!