Tennessee Williams

  • by John Lahr
  • Narrated by Elizabeth Ashley
  • 26 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The definitive biography of America's greatest playwright from the celebrated 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 a light on Tennessee Williams's warring family, his guilt, his creative triumphs and failures, his sexuality and numerous affairs, his misreported death, even the shenanigans surrounding his estate.
With vivid cameos of the formative influences in Williams's 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’s 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 long-time, bruising relationships with Pancho Gonzalez and Frank Merlo. With compassion and verve, Lahr explores how Williams's relationships informed his work and how the resulting success brought turmoil to his personal life.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I was glad when it was over

Would you try another book from John Lahr and/or Elizabeth Ashley?

Not really sure! I guess it would depend on the topic.

Has Tennessee Williams turned you off from other books in this genre?

Not at all.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Elizabeth Ashley?

I think the narrator was choosen because of her gravely voice. Maybe it was supposed to be similar to Tennessee? Who knows. But after hours and hours, her voice started to drive me nuts.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?


Any additional comments?

I didn't hate this book! But I didn't enjoy it either. Everyone knows Tennessee was a drug addict and a homosexual.,but so many hours just got old. I might have enjoyed an abridged version better. I would only recommend this book version to an absolute devout Tennessee fan. If you're not, I would pass on the book.

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- Michal "I live in Scottsdale, Arizona. I have 5 grown children, play ukuele exercise, and read."


I have been on the lookout for a biography of Tennessee Williams for some times. John Lahr is a well known biographer and drama critic so when his biography of Williams came out I bought it. It is a long but well written critical biography of the famous playwright. Williams died in 1983.

Williams famously fictionalized and immortalized his dysfunctional family in his drama “The Glass Menagerie” which premiered on Broadway in 1945. Other famous plays are “A Streetcar Named Desire” 1947, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” 1955. These plays were also made into movies.

Lahr writes that Williams spent the 1960s drunk, drugged, and in precarious-to-shattered mental health with his hits mostly behind him. William wrote “The Gnadiges Fraulein” 1966 while on amphetamines. Lahr defended Williams’s agent Audrey Wood and director Elia Kazan. Williams blamed them for his difficulties. Lahr said Williams always blamed others for his difficulties and failures. In the saga of Williams rise and fall Lahr provides information about the actors who were in the plays and movies.

Lahr did a great deal of research to write this biography, he made extensive use of Williams’s letters and journals. The book is a study of William’s imagination, his career, as well as his life. It is well-written biography of a difficult and mentally-ill man who wrote great plays. Elizabeth Ashley narrated the book.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-22-2014
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio