Thomas Lanier Williams, known as Tennessee Williams, (born March 26, 1911, Columbus, Mississippi, U.S. – died February 25, 1983, New York, New York, U.S.) was an American playwright and one of the most prominent dramatists of 20th-century.
His notable works include plays such as The Glass Menagerie (1944), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), and The Night of the Iguana (1961).
Williams won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, one for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and another for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955.
In addition to plays, Williams also wrote two novels, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1950) and Moise and the World of Reason (1975), short stories, poetry, essays, and an autobiography, Memoirs (1975).
Many of his acclaimed works have been adapted to film. In 1979, Williams was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
Life is an unanswered question, but let’s still believe in the dignity and importance of the question.'Reflections on a Revival of a Controversial Fantasy' Where I Live: Selected Essays (1978)
I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.'Scene Three' A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)
All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness!'Scene One' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963)
Walls are built up between people a hell of a damn sight faster than—broken down.'Act I' Period of Adjustment (1960)
The violets in the mountains can break the rocks if you believe in them and allow them to grow!'Block Ten' Camino Real (1953)
When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.'Prologue' Camino Real (1953)
Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quick you hardly catch it going.'Scene Three' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963)
We are all civilized people, which means that we are all savages at heart but observing a few amenities of civilized behavior.'Forward' Sweet Bird of Youth (1959)
Mendacity is a system that we live in. Liquor is one way out an’ death’s the other…'Act Two' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955)
All your Western theologies, the whole mythology of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent.'Act Two' The Night of the Iguana (1961)
The theatre is a place where one has time for the problems of people to whom one would show the door if they came to one’s office for a job.The Interview with Kenneth Tynan (Februrary 1956)
All pretty girls are a trap, a pretty trap, and men expect them to be.'Scene Six' The Glass Menagerie (1944)
The future is called ‘perhaps’, which is the only possible thing to call the future. And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.'The Past, Present and Perhaps' Orpheus Descending (1957)
We are all of us born, live and die in the shadow of a giant question mark that refers to three questions: Where do we come from? Why? And where, oh where, are we going!'Act I' Period of Adjustment (1960)
We’re all of us guinea pigs in the laboratory of God. Humanity is just a work in progress.'Block Twelve' Camino Real (1953)
Death is one moment, and life is so many of them.'Scene Five' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963)
If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.'Playboy Interview: Tennessee Williams' Conversations with Tennessee Williams (1986)
The human heart would never pass the drunk-test. If you took the human heart out of the human body and put a pair of legs on it and told it to walk a straight line, it couldn’t do it.'Act III' Period of Adjustment (1960)
There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go!'Block Eight' Camino Real (1953)
Some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a play, just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the revelation of character in life, even in one’s own character to himself.'Critic Says 'Evasion,' Writer Sasys 'Mystery'' Where I Live: Selected Essays (1978)
You can be young without money, but you can’t be old without it.'Act One' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955)
We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.'Scene Six' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963)
The scene is memory and is therefore nonrealistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominantly in the heart.'Scene One' The Glass Menagerie (1944)
Men don’t want anything they get too easy. But on the other hand men lose interest quickly.'Scene Five' A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)
There’s no better credit-card in the world than driving up at a bank door in a Cadillac limousine.'Act I' Period of Adjustment (1960)
We’re all of us sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life!'Act Two. Scene One.' Orpheus Descending (1957)
Once you fully apprehend the vacuity of a life without struggle you are equipped with the basic means of salvation.'The Catastrophe of Success' The Glass Menagerie (1944)
Hate is a thing, a feeling, that can only exist where there is no understanding.'Forward' Sweet Bird of Youth (1959)
We have to distrust each other. It is our only defence against betrayal.'Block Ten' Camino Real (1953)
After all, high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.Memoirs (1975)
Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.Tehyi Hsieh, Chinese epigrams inside out, and proverbs, 1948