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Tennessee Williams sends his autobiography to Mexico.

Like almost everything else Tennessee Williams wrote, his short autobiographical sketch, "Facts About Me," presents a tangled bibliographic history. Most individuals know about this brief (1167-word) article from reading it in Williams's Where I Live: Selected Essays.(1) A note to this item in the collection informs readers that "This essay appeared on the jacket of the record album |Tennessee Williams Reading from His Work,' Caedmon Records, 1952." However, in his negative review of the first edition of Drewey Wayne Gunn's Tennessee Williams: A Bibliography,(2) George Miller pointed out that "Facts About Me" was originally published in the Boston Herald on November 2, 1947,(3) a citation Gunn subsequently included in the second edition of his Williams bibliography (1991).

I would like to add further information - bibliographic and biographical - about the dissemination of Williams's well-known essay. While working on a history of Williams's reception in Mexico during the 1940s, I came upon one review of the first Mexican production of A Streetcar Named Desire (Un tranvia llamado Deseo), by the Teatro Reforma in December 1948, where "Facts About Me" plays a central role. The review, which appeared in the "El Teatro" section of Novedades for December 4, 1948 (on page 3, continued on page 8), was entitled "Quien es Tennessee Williams, A Quien se Considera Como |El Nuevo O'Neill'" ("Who is this Tennessee Williams Who is Considered the New O'Neill"). Written by respected Mexican theatre critic and Williams acquaintance Armando de Maria y Campos, the review identifies a common theme in O'Neill and Williams - the eternal conflict of fantasy against reality - and then points out that Williams, "this new O'Neill," was in Mexico in 1946 as a simple tourist passing through and took a room at the Hotel Reforma, had breakfast at Sanborn's, went on escapades to the theatres and revues, and made the perfunctorily quick twenty-four-hour trips to Cuernavaca and Taxco. Lauding the production of Streetcar, "one of the biggest successes in the theatre," in Mexico, Armando de Maria y Campos then disclosed that "this very same Tennessee Williams had the amiability to send me, owing to the Mexican premiere of his Streetcar, some notations about his life." The rest of the review is devoted to the Spanish translation of "Facts About Me," or "Hechos sombre me persona."

The inclusion of Williams's autobiography in de Maria y Campos's review is significant for several reasons. This may very well be the first time Williams's concise autobiography was translated into Spanish, let alone any other language. In all likelihood, it was the first time Mexican readers learned firsthand the details of the playwright's life and benefited from the interpretation he offered of them. Chief among Williams's observations of himself was that "there was a combination of Puritan and Cavalier strains in my blood which may be accountable for the conflicting impulses I often represent in the people I write about" (Where I Live, p. 58). Sending this autobiography to Sr. de Maria y Campos, Williams decided to share something of himself with a country he had a great fondness for and a recurring desire to explore both in person and through his plays.

(1) Where I live (New York: New Directions, 1978). pp. 58-62. (2) Tennessee Williams: A Bibliography (Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow, 1980). (3) Review of Tennessee Williams: A Bibliography, by Drewey Wayne Gunn, Tennessee Williams Review, 3, no.2 (1982), 51-4.
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Author:Kolin, Philip C.
Publication:The Mississippi Quarterly
Article Type:Biography
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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