NewsNational News


Long-lost story from Tennessee Williams discovered

Posted at 11:29 AM, Mar 25, 2014

(CNN) — After it spent decades buried in library archives, a newly discovered story from playwright Tennessee Williams was published this month.

The story, titled “Crazy Night,” appears in the new issue of The Strand mystery magazine released March 25, and coincides with the 70-year anniversary of Williams’ classic play “The Glass Menagerie.”

Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of The Strand, recently uncovered the 14-page manuscript at the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center. Gulli says he was researching the Mississippi-born writer when he came across what he describes as a “treasure trove” of Williams’ personal papers and documents.

Williams is one of America’s best-known and most revered playwrights. During the peak of his career in the 1940s and ’50s, he was praised by critics and scorned by social conservatives for tackling taboo subjects of the time, including rape, incest and homosexuality.

Many of his plays were turned into hit movies featuring Hollywood stars such as Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. Williams twice won the Pulitzer Prize and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Williams died in 1983.

Gulli was initially skeptical that the story had never before been published, but several experts, including an agent for Williams’ literary estate, said they’d never heard of it.

“I thought it was captivating,” Gulli says. “It’s raw but has a fresh voice and shows a great deal of maturity for his age.”

Williams, who was born in 1911, wrote “Crazy Night” in his early 20s, years before his Broadway success with plays such as “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

In the semi-autobiographical story, a troubled college freshman faces flunking out of school on the last night of spring term. It explores themes of love and deceit and includes a thinly veiled reference to Williams’ romance with one of his college classmates.

“To me, it’s a great highlight to find something new from somebody I grew up revering,” Gulli says.

Gulli has a knack for finding long-lost works. In the last five years, he’s discovered previously unpublished stories and essays from authors including Agatha Christie, Graham Greene, H.G. Wells and Mark Twain. But Gulli says he has a soft spot for Williams.

“To me he’s as relevant today as he was when his works were first published,” Gulli said.

Indeed, many of Williams plays are still performed today. “The Glass Menagerie” first premiered in New York on March 31, 1945, and a revival recently wrapped a successful run on Broadway.

What’s your favorite Tennessee Williams play? Share your favorites in the comments below, on Twitter @CNNLiving or on CNN Living’s Facebook page.

™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.