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Tennessee Williams

This guide outlines various research materials about famed playwright and former Washington University student Tennessee Williams available from the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections in Olin Library.

Williams as Student

Fall 1936 to spring 1937 was Tennessee Williams' only year as a Washington University student. Then known as Thomas Lanier Williams, he enrolled in Greek, General Literature, and English 16. His entry for the English 16 playwriting contest, a melodrama entitled Me, Vashya!, concerned a peasant who becomes a munitions magnate selling arms to a world which seemed constantly at war. The play failed to impress the contest judges.  Williams left the University, enrolling at the University of Iowa in the Fall of 1937. 

Student Publications

Some issues of Eliot Magazine include poems by Tennessee Williams.  Although only an enrolled student from 1936 -- 1937, Wiliams remained in touch with the student editors who continued to accept his submissions:

  • Nov. 1936  pages 2, 6
  • Dec. 1936  pages 19, 21
  • Feb. 1937  page 1
  • March 1937  page 1
  • May 1937  page 19
  • June 1937  pages 7, 19
  • Nov. 1937  pages 7, 11
  • Dec. 1937  page 21
  • Feb. 1938  pages 4, 21
  • May 1941  page 21
  • Jan. 1942  page 20

Eliot Magazine, April 1937, includes a mention of the play “Candles to the Sun.”

The Hatchet 1938 yearbook (page 88) includes a picture of Tennessee Williams as staff of Washington University Eliot

For information about viewing these publications at University Archives, please see:

Williams Returns to WU & St. Louis

Images of Williams

Images of Tennessee Williams from the 1938 yearbook, and his 1977 return visit to campus are available by contacting University Archives.  A contact sheet of these images is available for consultation (below).  Please contact University Archives for procedures and requirements for publication or reprodcution of these images.


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