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Thomas Lawier Williams, alias Tennessee Williams, lived and wrote in a private, neurotic cocoon. Oblivious of external influences though D.H. Lawrence and Genet influenced him to some extent, he was an intensely personal writer. Topical to the extent of being a literary recluse, he emerged as a great and original playwright.
Although Williams lived amidst troubling historical events, his plays do not directly portray the times. The setting for The Glass Menagerie is the post-Depression Thirties, and A Streetcar Named Desire is set in the war-torn years of the forties; both times were periods of radical and turbulent events, but they are not developed in the plays.
Most of Williams' characters are based on real people in his life, many of them family members. Stanley Kowalski resembles Williams' father Cornelius in his rough, boisterous ways, in his foul language, and in his love for poker and alcohol. His character Tom Wingfield writes poetry by night while working in a shoe factory by day. Like Thomas, Tom Wingfield feels compelled to leave home in order to write, but that is where the similarity ends. Laura Wingfield, who suffers a psychosis, is modeled on Williams' sister Rose. Both the real woman and the fictional character are preoccupied with listening to records and collecting miniature glass animals.