Books

Mister Paradise

David Roessel (and others)

The greatest playwright of the American South, Tennessee Williams used his talent throughout his life to create brief plays exploring many of the themes that dominated his best-known works. Here, thirteen never-before-published one-act dramas reveal some of his most poignant and hilarious characters. From the indefatigable, witty and tough drag queens of And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens to the disheartened poet Mister Paradise, and the extravagant mistress in The Pink Bedroom, these are tales of isolated figures struggling against a cruel world, who refuse to lose sight of their dreams.

Sweet Bird of Youth and Other Plays

Tennessee Williams

Loneliness, sexual tension and the need for human kindness pervade these three plays by Tennessee Williams, as their characters rage against personal demons and the modern world. In 'Sweet Bird of Youth', a drifter, Chance Wayne, returns to his home town with an ageing movie actress in search of the girl he loved in his youth, but with terrible, violent results. 'Period of Adjustment' tells the story of two young newlyweds who visit the husband's old army friend on Christmas Eve after unsuccessfully consummating their marriage, and unleash forbidden passion, while in 'The Night of the Iguana' a diverse group of people, including a disturbed ex-minister and a troubled spinster, are thrown together in an isolated Mexican hotel for one eventful night.

Suddenly Last Summer and Other Plays

Tennessee Williams

These three dramatic works by Tennessee Williams explore the darker side of human nature and are haunted by a sense of isolation and regret. 'Suddenly Last Summer' is the starkly told story of Catherine, who seemingly goes insane after her cousin Sebastian dies in grisly circumstances on a trip to Europe. 'The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore' is a passionate examination of a wealthy old woman as she recounts her memories in the face of death, while in 'Small Craft Warnings' a motley group of people - including a blowsy beautician, a discredited alcoholic doctor, a vulnerable waif and two gay men - sit around a seedy bar on the Californian coast, each contemplating their own desperate fate.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Tennessee Williams

A sizzling drama of desire, avarice and deception set in the American Deep South, Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is published in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Big Daddy' Pollitt, the richest cotton planter in the Mississippi Delta, is about to celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday. His two sons have returned home for the occasion: Gooper, his wife and children, Brick, an ageing football hero who has turned to drink, and his feisty wife Maggie. As the hot summer evening unfolds, the veneer of happy family life and Southern gentility gradually slips away as unpleasant truths emerge and greed, lies, jealousy and suppressed sexuality threaten to reach boiling point. Made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a masterly portrayal of family tensions and individuals trapped in prisons of their own making.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was born in Columbus, Mississippi. When his father, a travelling salesman, moved with his family to St Louis some years later, both he and his sister found it impossible to settle down to city life. He entered college during the Depression and left after a couple of years to take a clerical job in a shoe company. He stayed there for two years, spending the evenings writing. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1940 for his play Battle of Angels, and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and 1955. Among his many other plays Penguin have published The Glass Menagerie (1944), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), The Night of the Iguana (1961), and Small Craft Warnings (1972).

If you enjoyed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, you might like Williams's The Glass Menagerie, also published in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Tennessee Williams will live as long as drama itself ... he is, quite simply, indispensable'
Peter Shaffer, author of Equus

Baby Doll and Other Plays

Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams's controversial Hollywood screenplay Baby Doll opens with Archie Lee's teenage bride driving him to distraction, as she has refused to consummate their marriage until the day of her twentieth birthday. Enter wily Sicilian Silva Vaccaro, Archie's rival both in the cotton business and for the affections of the flirtatious Baby Doll, and things reach breaking-point. This volume also contains Something Unspoken, a brilliantly comic study of a wealthy, manipulative Southern spinster, and Summer and Smoke, a sexually charged portrayal of Alma, a sensitive, unmarried minister's daughter, and her childhood love, the wild, sensual doctor's son John.

The Rose Tattoo and Other Plays

Tennessee Williams

In these three exotic, steamy dramas Tennessee Williams portrays loss, faded lives and passionate love affairs.

The Rose Tattoo is set in a bustling, Sicilian-American community, where newly widowed Serafina is paralysed by grief, until she has her romantic illusions about her dead husband shattered and rediscovers her true nature as a fiery prima donna, in a life-affirming celebration of love and sex. Tennessee Williams explores a new 'wild and unrestricted' theatrical form in the colourful tropical fantasy Camino Real, while Orpheus Descending, however, takes us into the dark territory of the Deep South: the corrupt hell of a small, brutal township, where a forbidden and tragic love affair sparks horrific violence.

The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams (and others)

Tennessee Williams's evocation of loneliness and lost love, The Glass Menagerie is one of his most powerful and moving plays. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes a new introduction by Robert Bray.

Abandoned by her husband, Amanda Wingfield comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, more gracious life in Blue Mountain when she was pursued by 'gentleman callers'. Her son Tom, a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure and escape from his mother's suffocating embrace, while Laura, her shy crippled daughter, has her glass menagerie and her memories. Amanda is desperate to find her daughter a husband, but when the long-awaited gentleman caller does arrive, Laura's romantic illusions are crushed.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was born in Columbus, Mississippi. When his father, a travelling salesman, moved with his family to St Louis some years later, both he and his sister found it impossible to settle down to city life. He entered college during the Depression and left after a couple of years to take a clerical job in a shoe company. He stayed there for two years, spending the evenings writing. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1940 for his play Battle of Angels, and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and 1955. Among his many other plays Penguin have published The Glass Menagerie (1944), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), The Night of the Iguana (1961), and Small Craft Warnings (1972).

If you enjoyed The Glass Menagerie, you might like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Tennessee Williams will live as long as drama itself'
Peter Shaffer, author of Equus

A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams (and others)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire is the tale of a catastrophic confrontation between fantasy and reality, embodied in the characters of Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Arthur Miller.

'I have always depended on the kindness of strangers'

Fading southern belle Blanche DuBois is adrift in the modern world. When she arrives to stay with her sister Stella in a crowded, boisterous corner of New Orleans, her delusions of grandeur bring her into conflict with Stella's crude, brutish husband Stanley Kowalski. Eventually their violent collision course causes Blanche's fragile sense of identity to crumble, threatening to destroy her sanity and her one chance of happiness.

Tennessee Williams's steamy and shocking landmark drama, recreated as the immortal film starring Marlon Brando, is one of the most influential plays of the twentieth century.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was born in Columbus, Mississippi. When his father, a travelling salesman, moved with his family to St Louis some years later, both he and his sister found it impossible to settle down to city life. He entered college during the Depression and left after a couple of years to take a clerical job in a shoe company. He stayed there for two years, spending the evenings writing. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1940 for his play Battle of Angels, and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and 1955. Among his many other plays Penguin have published The Glass Menagerie (1944), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), The Night of the Iguana (1961), and Small Craft Warnings (1972).

If you enjoyed A Streetcar Named Desire, you might like The Glass Menagerie, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Lyrical and poetic and human and heartbreaking and memorable and funny'
Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather

'One of the greatest American plays'
Observer

Memoirs

Allean Hale (and others)

When Memoirs was first published in 1975, it created quite a bit of turbulence in the media--though long self-identified as a gay man, Williams' candour about his love life, sexual encounters, and drug use was found shocking in and of itself, and such revelations by America's greatest living playwright were called "a raw display of private life" by The New York Times Book Review. As it turns out, more than thirty years later, Williams' look back at his life is not quite so scandalous as it once seemed; he recalls his childhood in Mississippi and St. Louis, his prolonged struggle as a "starving artist," the "overnight" success of The Glass Menagerie in 1945, the death of his long-time companion Frank Merlo in 1962, and his confinement to a psychiatric ward in 1969 and subsequent recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, all with the same directness, compassion, and insight that epitomize his plays.

Biography

Tennessee Williams was born in 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi, where his grandfather was the episcopal clergyman. When his father, a travelling salesman, moved with his family to St Louis some years later, both he and his sister found it impossible to settle down to city life. He entered college during the Depression and left after a couple of years to take a clerical job in a shoe company. He stayed there for two years, spending the evenings writing. He entered the University of Iowa in 1938 and completed his course, at the same time holding a large number of part-time jobs of great diversity. He received a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1940 for his play Battle of Angels, and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and 1955. Among his many other plays Penguin have published The Glass Menagerie (1944), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Summer and Smoke (1948), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Camino Real(1953), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Orpheus Descending (1957), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), Period of Adjustment (1960), The Night of the Iguana (1961), The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963; revised 1964) and Small Craft Warnings (1972). He died in 1983.