I’ve started reading Tennessee Williams’ Memoirs, which he wrote in the 1975. So far, it’s fantastic – although I’ve just ended his college years. So I’m sure it will get even better. But I didn’t realize that he had lived in Memphis. I knew he spent his boyhood years in Clarksdale, MS because they have a Tennessee Williams festival every fall.
Tennessee Williams spent the summer of 1934 at his grandparents’ house in Memphis recovering from an illness when he was in college. His grandparents, the Dakins, lived at 1917 Snowden Avenue, across from Southwestern University, which is now Rhodes College. This house is about a mile from my house, so I took a drive over there today to see it. At least I think I saw it. There is house between 1923 Snowden and 1913 Snowden and across the street from 1916 Snowden, so I took a picture just in case that was it.
While Tennessee Williams was in Memphis he had dinner at the Peabody Hotel restaurant, but spent most of his time in the library at Southwestern University, now Rhodes College, right down the street from his grandparents’ house. It was here where he wrote his first play Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay!, which was produced and performed by The Rose Arbor Players at 1780 Glenview in Memphis. There is a historical marker on University and Snowden, but it says that Tennessee Williams was in Memphis and wrote his play here in 1935. But in his memoirs, Tennessee Williams wrote, that he was in Memphis in 1934 – and he writes it several times, so it is not a typo.