By Megan Harlan
November 24, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams

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Tennessee Williams’ first major production was a flop; he was plagued by visions of ”blue devils,” his personal demons; he flaunted, yet never reconciled himself with, his homosexuality; he moved incessantly but felt most at home with the good-time ”Quarter rats” of New Orleans. Born ”Tom” to a father he hated and a mother he once called ”a little Prussian officer in drag” (who was the model for the domineering Amanda in The Glass Menagerie), Williams learned early how to channel his ”hysteria” into his writing — thus escaping the schizophrenia (and lobotomy) fated for his beloved sister. The first of two volumes, Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams is a juicy, definitive portrait of the playwright as a talented, troubled young man reads like a psychological novel and ends like a cliff-hanger — with A Streetcar Named Desire about to bring Williams ”the catastrophe of success.”

Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams

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