Tennessee Williams (born Thomas Lanier Williams III, March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983) was an American author who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs. His professional career lasted from the mid 1930s until his death in 1983, and saw the creation of many plays that are regarded as classics of the American stage. He received virtually all of the top theatrical awards for his works of drama, including a Tony Award for best play for The Rose Tattoo (1951) and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire (1948) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). In 1980 he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter and is today acknowledged as one of the most accomplished playwrights in the history of English speaking theater.
Theater scholar Charlotte Canning, of the University of Texas at Austin where William's archives are located, has said, "There is no more influential 20th-century American playwright than Tennessee Williams... He inspired future generations of writers as diverse as Suzan-Lori Parks, Tony Kushner, David Mamet and John Waters, and his plays remain among the most produced in the world."