Two original thermofax letters from Tennessee Williams to literary agent Audrey Woods, 1963

N.p. N.p., 1963. Two vintage thermofax letters from Tennessee Williams to literary agent Audrey Woods, with Williams' copied signatures, "Love, Tenn," and "Tenn," and copied annotations of "Key West, Fla.," and "Key West," and dates "2/6/63," and "2/24/63."

Williams, a prodigious letter writer throughout his life (as is evidenced in the 2000 and 2004 publications, "The Selected Letters of Tennessee Williams, Volume I: 1920-1945," and "The Selected Letters of Tennessee, Volume II, 1945-1957"), had one of his longest and most candid correspondences with his literary agent, Woods, who first wrote to the young, struggling playwright in 1939. Their correspondence continued for 32 years, until a famously acrimonious split in 1971, when Williams, depressed and paranoid, fueled by years of drug and alcohol abuse, blamed Woods for his faltering career and the poor critical reception of his recent work.

By the early 1960s correspondence between Williams and Woods had slackened some, and Williams' professional frustrations and his conflicting emotions towards Woods are fully revealed in the two 1963 thermofax letters presented here.

The first letter, dated "2/6/63," which Williams signed affectionately "Love, Tenn," fluctuates from defensive to fondness to morose, and addresses the author's hesitancy signing papers with Ashley-Steiner (the agency Woods relocated to), questioning the current state of their relationship, "I have not been at all sure of your attitude toward me," his own professional standing, "beaten to the canvas by blow after blow," his physical health, "I feel close to the end," and the need to send Woods a revision of his will, "before I sign other commitments."

The second letter, dated two and a half weeks later, "2/24/63," is a decidedly more dour communiqué, revoking power of attorney from Woods, and was written by Williams in an admittedly inebriated state, "To write this letter I've had to get a bit drunk as I've had to get a bit drunk to write anything since the summer of '55."

A revealing pair of correspondences which finds Williams ruminating on his mortality and questioning his relationship with his career-long agent, during a period of professional, creative, and perceived physical diminution. It should be noted, although it is not mentioned in the letters, that it was at this time that Williams' partner of 16 years (the most fruitful and stable period of Williams' life), Frank Merlo, had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Merlo died the following year, after which Williams descended into a period of nearly catatonic depression and increasing drug use.

8.5 x 11 inches. Very Good, both with two horizontal folds, with some accompanying text loss, amounting to no more than several words, with closed tears starting at folds, and each with a vertical tear repaired with cello tape on the verso.


[Book #156497]