2014 National Book Award Finalist, Nonfiction

John Lahr

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh John Lahr, credit Paul DavisTennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

W.W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 978-0393021240


John Lahr compellingly weaves together the life and works of one of our greatest playwrights to produce not only the definitive biography of Williams—meticulously researched and lucidly comprehensive—but the finest introduction to the plays, from the great blockbusters to the critically bashed. More than an illuminating biography of a perplexing genius, Mad Pilgrimage may be the best book available on American theater.


Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh gives intimate access to the mind of one of the most brilliant dramatists of his century, a writer 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.


John Lahr, the author of eighteen books, was the senior drama critic of The New Yorker for over two decades. He has twice won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism and is the first critic ever to win a Tony Award, for coauthoring the 2002 Elaine Stritch at Liberty.


- johnlahr.com


Photo credit: Paul Davis