Fred W. Todd and the Tennessee Williams Holdings at The Historic New Orleans Collection

Mark Cave

In 1939 Tennessee Williams was living in an attic apartment at 722 Toulouse Street in the Vieux Carré in what he called the “poetic evocation of all the cheap rooming houses of the world” (Vieux Carré 4). Kemper and Leila Williams (no relation to Tennessee) had recently purchased and were renovating the circa 1794 property just around the corner at 533 Royal, which backed into the 722 Toulouse Street domain. In 1945, the Williamses purchased the “poetic evocation” and appropriately dubbed it the “garage apartment.” Little did they know at the time that among its former tenants was someone who would become one of the most notable literary figures in the world, and that his legacy, and their own, would one day be intertwined.

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Both Kemper and Leila Williams came from wealthy southern families; his family owned one of the largest cypress lumber companies in the world. The Williamses had the means to indulge their interest in the restoration of historic buildings, and in collecting historical material: paintings, manuscripts, rare books—anything that documented the history and culture of New Orleans. Following Leila Williams’s death in 1966, the Kemper and Leila Williams Foundation was established to ensure the protection and growth of their collections and Vieux Carré properties. In May 1970, The Historic New Orleans Collection (funded by the Kemper and Leila Williams Foundation) officially became a public facility featuring exhibition galleries and research facilities.

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The Historic New Orleans Collection was involved with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival from the festival’s very start in 1986, hosting receptions and events. Over time, THNOC has become the unofficial repository for material documenting the annual event. The archive includes correspondence of festival organizers, minutes, promotional material, videocassettes, and ephemera that in a random and often incomplete way document the history of this popular and continually blossoming tribute to Tennessee.

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The accumulation of the festival material occurred over time and was largely the result of THNOC’s close association with the event. The first deliberate, substantial acquisition intended to document Williams’s work was made in 1994 with the purchase of a ninety-nine-page playscript of Vieux Carré from The Brick Row Book Shop in San Francisco. The acquisition of the playscript, dated November 27, 1973, was easily justified, considering that some events in the play take place in The Collection’s 722 Toulouse Street building. Soon after this acquisition, THNOC received a donation of a small collection of lease documents from 1946-47 related to Tennessee’s apartment at 632½ St. Peter Street, just around the corner from The Collection. In addition to the playscript of Vieux Carré and the lease documents, THNOC’s library held a modest collection of Williams’s published works, and its curatorial department maintained photographs of the Desire streetcar draped in black and the 632½ St. Peter Street building, decorated with a wreath on the occasion of Tennessee’s death in 1983; a series of 1977 photographs by Christopher R. Harris of Williams at various locations in the Vieux Carré; Richard Sexton’s photographs of contemporary New Orleans places having a connection to Williams’s life and work; and a lithograph by noted artist George Javier Febres entitled “My Name for Him was Little Horse.”

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In 1995, The Collection mounted an exhibition entitled The Last Frontier of Bohemia: Tennessee Williams in New Orleans. Focused on Williams’s introduction to New Orleans in the winter of 1938-39, the exhibition was curated by Kathy Henderson of the University of Texas with the assistance of Wendy Bowersock and David Dibble. While it drew almost exclusively from the enormous Williams archive at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the exhibition did much to reaffirm, for The Collection, Williams’s association with New Orleans and with its buildings in particular. The exhibit was timed to coincide with the annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. In attendance was Fred W. Todd, a librarian from San Antonio, who had for over forty years been assembling perhaps the largest private collection of Williams material in the world. While visiting The Collection, Mr. Todd talked with John Lawrence, director of museum programs, and other staff members. It became obvious that with Williams’s connection to New Orleans and THNOC’s involvement with the annual Tennessee Williams Festival, The Collection would be the ideal place for the materials that Mr. Todd had acquired to be used and appreciated. The director of the Williams Research Center, Dr. Alfred Lemmon, traveled to San Antonio to evaluate the collection on behalf of THNOC.

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In 2000 Mr. Todd advised The Collection’s staff about an auction at Neal Auction Company in New Orleans that included a group of forty-four lots of Tennessee Williams material. According to the auction house, the items were being sold by a rare book and manuscripts dealer from Thibodaux, Louisiana (a small town outside of New Orleans), who had acquired them from someone who had found them in the garbage outside of one of Tennessee Williams’s French Quarter apartments. A complete list of this material can be found in Neal Auction Company’s Spring Estates Auction Catalog for April 8 and 9, 2000. The lots sold to a number of different private and institutional collectors. The Collection purchased sixteen of the forty-four lots, including:

Presentation or Masque of Roses, manuscript play with revisions, 38 pages, undated (possibly part of The Spinning Song)

Blue Mountain, Mississippi, manuscript play fragment, 8 pages, undated

Summer and Smoke, manuscript play, 60 pages, undated

[A Streetcar Named Desire], manuscript play fragment, 10 pages, undated

Provisional Film Story Treatment of “The Gentleman Caller,” film treatment fragment, 4 pages

The Glass Menagerie, manuscript play, 31 pages (included with the lot was “General Comments and Some Suggestions by Me” on the stationery of the Sherman Hotel in Chicago in which Williams comments on his reaction to the Chicago performance of The Glass Menagerie)

The Fish in the Sky, manuscript play, 14 pages, undated

Initial of Eros, manuscript poem (multiple versions), 30 pages, March 1945

The Christus of Guadalajara, manuscript poem, 3 pages, July 1945

Children Star in Cinemas for Children, manuscript poem, 10 pages, undated

The Interval, manuscript short story (multiple versions), 11 pages, undated

Correspondence from Audrey Wood regarding The Glass Menagerie

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Later in 2000, Mr. Todd began negotiations with The Collection regarding the transfer of his materials to THNOC. Working with Dr. Alfred Lemmon and THNOC board member Charles Snyder, terms were agreed upon, and in February 2001 the Fred W. Todd Tennessee Williams Collection was acquired by The Historic New Orleans Collection. In his August 2000 appraisal of Mr. Todd’s collection, John R. Payne noted that it was “the most extensive and important gathering of printed and manuscript materials documenting Williams’ life and career held in private hands today,” and that it “is the finest collection in terms of condition that this appraiser has seen in over thirty years’ work with rare books and literary archives.”

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The Todd Collection had rather humble beginnings. In an interview I conducted the day his collection was boxed up for shipment to New Orleans, Mr. Todd reflected on his forty-five years of collecting. He remembered the first item he acquired, a thirty-five cent Signet paperback of Baby Doll purchased in 1956 at a neighborhood drugstore in Nacogdoches, Texas. He was then an undergraduate student at Stephen F. Austin State University where later he was to make Williams the focus of his study as he pursued a master’s degree in English. Mr. Todd purchased other books by Williams while he was a student; most were fragile paperbacks that he treated as cherished artifacts, not as objects to be used and discarded. After receiving his master’s degree, Mr. Todd joined the U.S. Army. His interest in Williams continued, and he remembered acquiring books through a bookshop in Anchorage, Alaska, while stationed at nearby Fort Richardson. In time, Mr. Todd’s interest in books led him to pursue a career as a librarian. He received a graduate degree in library science from the University of Texas at Austin and began his career with the science division of libraries at Stanford University. Mr. Todd eventually moved back to Texas where he ultimately served as director of the Aeromedical Library at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio before retiring in 1998.

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Through the years, Mr. Todd’s collection continued to grow, with the help of rare book and manuscript dealers such as Andreas Brown of the Gotham Book Mart in New York. Brown was a key figure in building the Tennessee Williams holdings at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and his knowledge of Williams’s paper trail was fundamental in building the Todd Collection as well. In time Mr. Todd received the privilege of first refusal from the Gotham Book Mart, as he did with a number of other rare book and manuscripts dealers. Some of the dealers instrumental in building the collection are the late Marguerite A. Cohn of the House of Books, Ltd. in New York; Ralph B. Sipper, formerly at Joseph the Provider in Santa Barbara; Peter B. Howard of Serendipity Books in Berkeley; Harvey and Linda Tucker of Black Sun Books in New York; and most recently, Faulkner House Books in New Orleans. During his collecting career Fred Todd acquired materials relating to other Southern writers, including Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Connor. These collections were eventually sold so that he could continue to build his Tennessee Williams collection, adding more expensive materials such as original correspondence and manuscripts to achieve the completeness and quality he demanded as a collector.


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The manuscript component of the Todd Collection consists of handwritten and typescript drafts of plays, film treatments, novels, short stories, poetry, and essays. This material was acquired from numerous sources over the course of thirty years. Some of the manuscripts are in the punch-bound blue wrappers of the Liebling-Wood Agency; many others, however, are in a more raw stage of development—typewritten with numerous revisions or handwritten, scrawled on scraps of paper or hotel stationery. Some manuscripts are accompanied by related correspondence, such as a typescript dialogue and continuity for the film Baby Doll, which is complemented with correspondence from Elia Kazan. The material is organized into four series: manuscript plays and screenplays, manuscript short stories and novels, manuscript poetry, and manuscript nonfiction.

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Manuscript Plays and Screenplays

At Liberty, manuscript play, undated

Baby Doll [Hide and Seek], manuscript screenplay, 40 pages, undated; manuscript screenplay revision, 21 pages, February 1954; manuscript continuity, 2 pages; and manuscript dialogue, 6 pages, with related correspondence from Elia Kazan, December [1955]

The Dismembering Furies, manuscript play, 54 pages, undated

The Enemy: Time, manuscript play, 16 pages, undated

[The Gentleman Caller], manuscript film treatment, 21 pages, undated

The Glass Menagerie, manuscript film treatments, totaling 38 pages, 1949

I Want to Go Away, manuscript play, 7 pages, undated

Kazan-Williams Film Project Based on the One Acts, Working Title The Twister, manuscript film treatment, 12 pages, undated

Lord Byron’s Love Letter, manuscript play, 21 pages, undated

The Mutilated, manuscript play fragments, 6 pages, undated

The Poker Night, manuscript play, 132 pages, undated

Red Devil Battery Sign, manuscript play fragments, 10 pages, undated

Side Light on a Convention, manuscript play, 18 pages, undated; manuscript one-act, 24 pages, undated

Sixteen Blocks on the Camino Real, manuscript play, 100 pages, undated

Slapstick Tragedy, manuscript play, 74 pages, undated

Stairs to the Roof, manuscript play, 101 pages, December 1941

A Streetcar Named Desire, manuscript play fragments, 8 pages total, undated

Summer and Smoke, manuscript play, 31 pages, May 1951

Sweet Bird of Youth, manuscript play, 80 pages, May 1957

Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen…, manuscript play, 10 pages, undated

Western, manuscript play, 12 pages, undated

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Manuscript Short Stories and Novels

The Angel in the Alcove, manuscript short story, 13 pages, undated

The Coming of Something to the Window Holly, manuscript short story, 12 pages, undated

Chronicle of a Demise, manuscript short story, 7 pages, undated

Desire and the Black Masseur, manuscript short story, 12 pages, undated

The Field of Blue Children, manuscript short story, 14 pages, undated

The Important Thing, manuscript short story, 20 pages, undated; manuscript fragment, 1 page, undated

The Malediction, manuscript short story, 25 pages, undated

Miss Rose and the Grocery Clerk or Something About Him, manuscript short story, 14 pages, undated

Moon of Pause, manuscript novel, 86 pages, undated

Mother of Us All, manuscript short story, 9 pages, undated

The Mysteries of Joy Rio, manuscript short story, 19 pages, undated

The Poet, manuscript short story, 9 pages, undated

The Red Part of a Flag, manuscript short story, 12 pages, undated

The Resemblance Between a Violin-Case and a Coffin, manuscript short story, 21 pages, October 1949

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, manuscript novel, 108 pages, 1950

Rubio Y Morena, manuscript short story, 22 pages, July 1948

Sand, manuscript short story, 8 pages, undated

Summer and Smoke, manuscript short story, 10 pages, undated

A System of Wheels, manuscript short story, 12 pages, undated

A Tale of Two Writers or The Ivory Tower, manuscript short story, 15 pages, undated

Three Players of a Summer Game, manuscript short story, 33 pages, April 1952

Two On a Party, manuscript short story, 33 pages, 1951-52

The Vine, manuscript short story, 21 pages, undated; manuscript short story, 16 pages, undated

The Yellow Bird, manuscript short story, 12 pages, undated

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Manuscript Poetry

Poems by Tennessee Williams, manuscript poetry, 21 pages, undated (published in Five Young American Poets)

Advice, manuscript poem fragment, 2 pages, undated

Androgyne, Mon Amour, manuscript poetry (multiple versions and fragments), 17 pages total, undated

Cellophane Boxes, manuscript poem with fragments, 4 pages total, November 1948

The Counselor Said and I Said, manuscript poem with fragment, 4 pages total, August 1971

Covenant, manuscript poem with fragment, 2 pages total, 1957

Crany Crow, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Crepe-De-Chine, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Cry, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Cry of Players, manuscript poetry (multiple versions), undated

The Diving Bell, manuscript poem, 2 pages, undated

Elements, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Faint as Leaf Shadow, manuscript poetry (multiple versions), 2 pages total, July 1949

The Final Day of Your Life, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

La Guadalupe, manuscript poetry (multiple versions), 2 pages total, undated

The Harp of Wales, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Homage to Hart Crane, manuscript poem, 2 pages, undated

Idillio, manuscript poem, 1 page, June 1944

Intimations, manuscript poem, 3 pages, undated

Kicks, manuscript poetry (multiple versions with fragments), 8 pages total, November 1976

Ladies of the Last Fate, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

The Lady with No One at All, manuscript poetry (multiple versions), 3 pages total, undated

Last Words, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

A Liturgy of Roses, manuscript poem with fragment, 5 pages total, March 1946

Love is an Old Song, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

A Love-Song To, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Of Lovers and Clouds and Birds, manuscript poem with fragments, 4 pages total, undated

The Marvelous Children, manuscript poetry (multiple versions), 6 pages total, undated

The Negative, manuscript poetry, 1 page, undated

Nonno’s Poem, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Old Men Go Mad at Night, manuscript poetry (multiple versions), 2 pages total, February 1972

Outrageousness, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Poem for Sixty-Ninth Birthday, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

A Poem that Wanders, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Remarks, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Remember Me as One of Your Lovers, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Ripping off the Mother, manuscript poem, 2 pages, undated

Romance, manuscript poem, 2 pages, undated

A Salute to the Queen, manuscript poem, 2 pages, undated

A Separate Poem, manuscript poetry (multiple versions), 7 pages total, 1964

The Terms, manuscript poetry (multiple versions), 4 pages total, 1964

Things Fall Downstairs, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

Le Violletta Romance, manuscript poem, 1 page, undated

What’s Happened to the Violins, manuscript poetry (multiple versions), 3 pages total, undated

Wolf’s Hour, manuscript poem with fragments, 5 pages total, 1976

Numerous untitled poems and poetry fragments, 20 pages, undated

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Manuscript Nonfiction

A Film in Sicily, manuscript essay, 9 pages, undated

Chicago Arrival, manuscript essay, 4 pages, 1948

Facts About Me, manuscript essay, 5 pages, undated

Final Material, manuscript reflections, 4 pages, undated

High Point Built on a Cavern, manuscript review of Period of Adjustment, 4 pages, undated

Notes on the Filming of Rose Tattoo, manuscript essay, 3 pages, 1952

Praise to Assenting Angels, manuscript essay (regarding Carson McCullers), 9 pages, undated

Random Notes After a First Reading of Out Cry, manuscript review, 5 pages, undated

The Curious History of This Play and Plans for its Future, manuscript essay (regarding Red Devil Battery Sign), 2 pages, undated

The Romantic Last Stand, manuscript essay, 1 page undated

Some Informal Thoughts on Success, manuscript essay, undated

Some Notes on Camino Real, manuscript essay, 5 pages, undated

Tennessee Williams, manuscript essays (multiple versions), 3 pages total, April 1, 1945

These Scattered Idioms, manuscript essay, 1 page, undated

We Are Dissenters Now, manuscript essay fragment, 1 page, undated

What’s Next on the Agenda, Mr. Williams?, manuscript essay (multiple versions), 34 pages total, undated

Manuscript essays regarding Williams’s views on Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Elizabeth Taylor, and Katharine Hepburn (multiple versions), 33 pages total, undated

Numerous untitled essays and fragments


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The correspondence component of the Todd Collection contains handwritten and typed letters, postcards, telegrams, and greeting cards written by Williams and to Williams, as well as third-party correspondence between friends and family members—usually about Williams. Among the correspondence from Williams is a November 29, 1941, letter to William Saroyan in which Williams discusses the Second World War: “I think there is going to be a vast hunger for life after all this death—and for light after all this eclipse—People will want to read, see, feel the living truth and they will revolt against the sing-song Mother Goose book of lies that are being fed to them. A layer of thick, dull and insensitive epidermis is gradually being blasted off the public hide—I hope!” A September 6, 1952, letter from Williams to Dr. Ercole Graziedei concerns European public reaction to The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone: “I live according to fairly strict moral principles, and the predominant tone of all my work is deeply and instinctively moral.” Also of note is a 1949 letter from Williams to the producers of the first film version of The Glass Menagerie evaluating a screening of the film; correspondence with his literary agent, Audrey Wood, with Frank Corsaro regarding The Night of the Iguana, with Joseph Losey regarding the film Boom, and with Marion Black Vaccarro regarding Tennessee’s relationship with Frank Merlo; and letters to Paul Bigelow.

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Significant among the third-party correspondence is a group of letters between Marion Black Vaccaro (Tennessee’s close friend and traveling companion) and her family. The letters, purchased by Mr. Todd from the Gotham Book Mart, had been acquired from Richard Leavitt through a member of the Vaccaro family; they document in detail some of Vaccaro’s travels with Tennessee in 1958, 1960, 1961, and 1964 to such places as Rome, Taormina, Paris, Havana, Madrid, Athens, and Tangier. The letters mention encounters with a variety of people: frequent visits with actress Anna Magnani, visits with Paul and Jane Bowles in Tangier, and a meeting between Tennessee and Fidel Castro. Another important group of third-party correspondence is a group of letters from the Williams family. Letters from Edwina Dakin Williams, Tennessee’s mother, include a number from Audrey Wood discussing Tennessee’s activities and an April 23, 1945, letter from Edwina to her husband Cornelius telling him that she had received half of the royalties to The Glass Menagerie. Also included is correspondence from Tennessee’s sister, Rose, after her lobotomy, as well as correspondence of Tennessee’s father, Cornelius Coffin Williams, and brother, Dakin. The Gotham Book Mart, having acquired the material at a Sotheby’s auction, sold it to Mr. Todd. Correspondents are:

Raak Anderson

Bridget Aschenberg

William (Bill) Barnes

Clive Barnes

Diana Barrymore

Jim Bass

David Battan

Bonnie J. Beardsley

Herbert Berghoff

Paul Bigelow

Gloria Bindoff

George Black

Mrs. Robert Black

Marc Blitzstein

Charles Bowden

Paula Bowden

Paul Bowles

Lane Bradbury

Andreas Brown

Ruth Burch

Sister William Clare

Blanche M. Cornelius

Frank Corsaro

Helen Craig

Cheryl Crawford

Rodney G. Dakin

Walter Edwin Dakin

Mary Dallet

Robert DeMaria

Jachelene DeMave

Mary Diggs

Juanita S. Doares

Oliver Evans

Lucy Freeman

Williams M. Glavin

Dr. Ercole Graziedei

Adrian Hall

John Hancock

Katherine Harnett

Jo Healy

Pat Hingle

Mary L. Inman

Christopher Isherwood

Nagel Jackson

Margo Jones

Elia Kazan

Catherine Kellermann

Sidney Kiwitt

Sidney Lanier

Bob Larkin

James Laughlin

Russell Lee Lawrence

William C. Lengel

William Liebling

Lucy Livingston

Pauline Lord

Joseph Losey

Robert M. MacGregor

Anna Magnani

Shepard Mead

Frank Merlo

Jerome Moross

John Myers

Ronald Lee Platt

Tom Prideau

Pancho Rodriquez y Gonzalez

Luis Sanjurjo

William Saroyan

Lars Schmidt

Alan Schwartz

Jeanne Selvin

Irene Mayer Selznick

Richard Shepard

Luise Sillcox

Donald Spoto

Maureen Stapleton

Dan Stirrup

Micheal L. Sweet

Charles Taylor

Fred Todd

Philip Tracy

Mrs. Alfred E. Treen

Dan Turner

Marion Black Vaccaro

Lill van Saher

Pearl Wade

Jack Warner

Cornelius Coffin Williams

Dakin Williams

Edwina Dakin Williams

Joseph Lanier Williams

Rose Williams

Donald Windham

Audrey Wood

Stephen Wright

Financial and Legal Documents

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There are a number of pieces of correspondence that take the form of or accompany legal and financial documents and are therefore not in the correspondence series, but in a separate series. Correspondents in this series include:

Edward Dodd

Howard Kaufman

Floria Lasky

Julius Lefkowitz

Elliot Martin

Margaret Mayorga

Alan Schwartz

Bob Simon

Audrey Wood

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Significant among the financial and legal documents is a May 8, 1940, dramatic production contract for Battle of Angels; an October 5, 1953, agreement between Tennessee Williams and Paramount Pictures Corporation regarding the filming of The Rose Tattoo; documents relating to the Frank Corsaro production of The Night of the Iguana; and numerous “housekeeping” receipts and documents (most signed by Bill Glavin) related to Williams’s property at 1431 Duncan Street in Key West.


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The Todd Collection contains a strong theater component: included are playbills, playscripts, translated playscripts and adaptations, photographs, posters, and several small archives of individuals involved in Williams’s productions. Included are playbills from rare, early productions such as a signed one from the 1935 production of Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay! at the Rose Arbor Playhouse in Memphis, a playbill and ticket to the 1936 performance of Candles to the Sun at the Wednesday Club Auditorium in St. Louis, and an extremely rare playbill for the 1940-41 production of Battle of Angels at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. Also included are playbills for almost all of the Broadway premieres of Williams’s plays, such as a 1945 playbill for the Playhouse Theatre production of The Glass Menagerie, signed by Laurette Taylor. Some of the playbills have notable provenances, such as Truman Capote’s playbill from the 1966 Billy Rose Theatre production of The Rose Tattoo and Audrey Wood’s playbill for a 1957 production of Camino Real at the Phoenix Theatre in London. There are numerous playbills from notable revivals, as well as many from obscure local productions. With a few exceptions, such as a 1953 playbill for The Starless Sky, written by Donald Windham but directed by Tennessee Williams, the playbills are for plays that Williams wrote.

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The playscripts in the Todd Collection came to Mr. Todd through vendors from many different directors, producers, actors, actresses, and stagehands involved in productions of Williams’s work. Most are mimeographed and bound in wrappers of the Studio Duplicating Service. Included are:

A.C.T. Tribute Evening With Tennessee Williams, 65 pages, San Francisco, January 19, 1976

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 133 pages, [1955-56]

Clothes for a Summer Hotel, 99 pages, April 1979

Confessional, 47 pages, [1971]; 56 pages, [December 13, 1971]

Creve Coeur, 34 pages, [1978]; 32 pages, [1978]; 86 pages, [1978]

The Eccentricities of A Nightingale, 79 pages, [1976]; 67 pages (with playbill, stage direction, and set designs), [1976]

Flowers for the Dead: A Tribute to Tennessee Williams on the First Anniversary of his Death, 141 pages, [February 1984]

Garden District, 65 pages, [1958]

In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel, 69 pages, [1969]

Kingdom of Earth, 114 pages, [June 1967]

Kirche, Küche, und Kinder, 64 pages, [August 10, 1979]

The Mutilated, 64 pages, [1966]

The Night of the Iguana, 137 pages, [1961-62]; 130 pages, [1961]; 33 pages, [1959]

One Arm, 157 pages, [August 7, 1969]

Period of Adjustment, 129 pages, [December 1959]

Portrait of a Madonna, 8 pages, undated

The Red Devil Battery Sign, 128 pages, November 1974

The Rose Tattoo, 111 pages, [1950]

The Seven Descents of Myrtle, 24 pages, [1968]

Summer and Smoke, 96 pages, March 1948; 154 pages, undated

The Tennessee Williams Show, 155 pages, undated

Three Plays by Tennessee Williams, 83 pages, [April 16, 1958]

Tiger Tail, 84 pages, September 1977; 74 pages, [1977]

The Two-Character Play, 69 pages, [1975]

Two Scenes in the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel, 67 pages, November 1968

Vieux Carré, 45 pages, November 1973; 109 pages, March 19, 1977; 204 pages, [1977]

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Also included in the theater component are translated playscripts and foreign adaptations. Perhaps most significant among these is Jean Cocteau’s French language adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire. Others include:

The Glass Menagerie, Swedish, 118 pages; Italian by Alfredo Segre, 114 pages; German by Berthold Vietel, 140 pages

The Rose Tattoo, French by Raymond Gerome, 62 pages

A Streetcar Named Desire, Swedish by Sven Barthol, 244 pages; Danish by Holger Bech, 244 pages; French by Jean Cocteau, 231 pages; Italian, 161 pages

Sweet Bird of Youth, Spanish by Berta Maldonado, 107 pages

27 Wagons Full of Cotton, Spanish by E. Rodriguez Fabregat, 31 pages

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Significant among the theater photographs is a series of images from the George Keathley twentieth-anniversary production of The Glass Menagerie at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in 1965 and a series of photographs by French photographer Etienne Weill of French productions of Portrait of A Madonna, The Strangest Kind of Romance, Talk to Me Like the Rain, and This Property is Condemned. There are a handful of theater posters in the original accession from Fred Todd; this part of the collection has been significantly built upon by a more recent accession that will be discussed later in this article. Rounding out the theater component are three small groupings: The Claire Luce Papers, The Gary Tucker Papers, and The Leibling-Wood The Glass Menagerie Clipping File. Claire Luce (1903-1989), not to be confused with Ambassador and Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce, was a former Zeigfeld girl and noted actress who in the mid-1960s worked on a spoken-word recording of Williams’s In The Winter of Cities and starred as Flora Goforth in the 1965 production of The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. The Clare Luce Papers document her involvement in those two projects. The Gary Tucker Papers deal with Mr. Tucker’s experience directing the 1981 Goodman Theater production of A House Not Meant to Stand. Included in the papers are correspondence and multiple playscripts of A House Not Meant to Stand and the one-act play from which it evolved, Some Problems for the Moose Lodge. The Liebling-Wood The Glass Menagerie Clipping File includes newspaper clippings and press information from the 1944-45 Chicago and New York performances of The Glass Menagerie.


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The extensive cinema component of the Todd Collection includes screenplays, film stills and off-camera images, press books, posters, lobby cards, soundtracks, and paperback books published in conjunction with the release of the films. The term “screenplay,” used loosely in this description, includes everything from teleplays to cutting continuities and dialogue transcripts. Significant among the screenplays are:

All Gaul Is Divided, 97 pages

Boom, 132 pages, March 14, 1967

The Field of Blue Children, 48 pages

The Fugitive Kind, 129 pages, June 1, 1959; 89 pages, (cutting continuity), March 7, 1960; 89 pages, (dialogue transcript), March 7, 1960 (2 copies)

Grand, 117 pages, May 1979

Hide and Seek, 116 pages, February 19, 1952

The Night of the Iguana, 116 pages, (cutting continuity), June 4, 1964

Stopped Rocking, 120 pages, March 19, 1979

A Streetcar Named Desire, 78 pages, (dialogue transcript), [1951]

Summer and Smoke, 154 pages, (temporary yellow script), May 16, 1960; 146 pages, (revised final white script), December 14, 1960

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Perhaps most interesting among the film stills and off-camera shots is Vivien Leigh’s photograph album from the filming of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and an enormous collection of over 750 images documenting her involvement in the 1951 Warner Bros. film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. The Vivien Leigh material was acquired from the Vivien Leigh estate at a circa 1993 Sotheby’s auction. There are stills and off-camera shots for almost every major film version of Williams’s work, including a collection of over seven hundred images from the filming of the 1959 United Artists version of The Fugitive Kind. A substantial collection of promotional posters and lobby cards provides an impressive visual element to the Todd Collection and has proven useful for exhibition purposes. The press books are an excellent source of information, not only about the productions and those involved with them, but also about the publicity campaigns. Intended, in part, to be a catalog of available promotional materials for use by theater owners, the press books have helped THNOC expand its collection of posters and lobby cards. Rounding out the cinema component of the Todd Collection are soundtracks issued in association with the films and Signet paperback books that were marketed along with the films.

Periodicals and Books

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The periodical and book collections within the Todd Collection are arguably the most complete in existence. The periodical section is one of the fastest growing parts of the Todd Collection and one of great relevance to scholars as it assembles in one place not only Williams’s hard-to-find contributions, but odd and randomly collected items documenting Williams as a cultural icon. The earliest periodical is the May 1927 issue of Smart Set that contains Williams’s entry in a letter-writing contest answering the question “Can a good wife be a good sport?” His largely fictional letter won third prize. This item is followed chronologically by the August 1928 issue of Weird Tales that includes Williams’s story “The Vengeance of Nitocris” and numerous short story and poetry contributions to a variety of literary periodicals during the 1930s and early ’40s. Although Williams continued to contribute literary efforts to periodicals throughout his life, beginning in the late 1940s his own work is dwarfed by the proliferation of articles about his work that appeared in such periodicals as Theatre Arts, Time, Modern Drama, The Theatre, Show Business Illustrated, and Performing Arts. In the 1960s and ’70s numerous interviews focusing on Tennessee as a person and cultural icon appeared in periodicals. His mother, Edwina, was interviewed by Cosmopolitan in January 1963, and Tennessee was interviewed by such lifestyle magazines as After Dark, Gay Sunshine, and Playboy. Although there are a number of very significant and rare items among the periodicals, the great value to this part of the Todd Collection is in the compilation. Decades of effort were devoted to bringing all of these items together to enable scholars not only to fill in the holes of Williams’s publication record, but also to understand how Williams was presented in American popular culture.

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The books are organized into separate publications and collected editions, contributions, published translations, literary/theater criticism, and biographies. The arrangement is loosely based on George W. Crandell’s Tennessee Williams: A Descriptive Bibliography and is largely true to Fred Todd’s original arrangement. The separate publications and collected editions, which correspond to section A of Crandell’s bibliography, include titles that are wholly or substantially by Williams and consist of proof and review copies, American and British first editions, special limited editions, inscribed and signed copies, and copies with notable provenance. The books are arranged by date of publication, the first item being the 1945 publication of Battle of Angels. In many of the bibliographies this item is listed as a periodical as it represents a double number of Pharos magazine. But in order to be true to Mr. Todd’s original arrangement, and because the play is the only piece in this issue, it is listed as a separate publication. Also of note are Audrey Wood’s 1951 copy of I Rise in Flame, Cried the Phoenix, copy II of ten Roman-numeral copies, which is inscribed “For Audrey with my hearts true love Tennessee” and an edition of The Rose Tattoo signed by the cast of the Paramount film version along with numerous newspaper clippings regarding the circa 1954 filming of the picture in Key West. Significant among the collected editions is one of twenty-six lettered copies of Tennessee Williams’ Letters to Donald Windham, 1940-1965 signed by both Windham and Williams.

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The contributions corresponding to section B of Crandell’s bibliography include titles in which something by Williams appears in a book written or edited by another author. The titles are arranged chronologically—beginning with The Blewett Junior Life Yearbook for 1925, Williams’s junior high school yearbook—and contain an early Williams poem entitled “Demon Smoke.” Audrey Wood’s copy of Five Young American Poets (1944) includes twenty-nine poems by Williams; 25 Non-Royalty One-Act Plays for All-Girl Casts (1942) contains his one-act At Liberty; and Margaret Mayorga’s series of The Best One-Act Plays for 1940, 1941, 1942, 1944, and 1945 contains Williams’s Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry, The Lady of Larkspur Lotion, The Last of My Solid Gold Watches, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, and The Unsatisfactory Supper, respectively. The published translations correspond to Section H of Crandell’s bibliography and are arranged alphabetically by language, then by title. Included among almost one hundred translations are an Arabic version of A Streetcar Named Desire and a Korean version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

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The value of the separate publications and collected editions, contributions, and published translations is primarily artifactual; perhaps of greater interest to scholars are books on literary and theater criticism as they relate to Williams. Scholars also have access to an enormous collection of biographies of individuals associated with Williams’s life and work. Fred Todd devoted decades to building his collection of biographies and autobiographies, an invaluable resource for researchers. In the many cases in which there are multiple biographies for an individual, each adds new information about the subject’s involvement in Williams’s work. Included are biographies of the following individuals:

Elizabeth Ashley

Carroll Baker

Lauren Bacall

Tallulah Bankhead

Diana Barrymore

Warren Beatty

Jane Bowles

Paul Bowles

Marlon Brando

Richard Burton

Truman Capote

Dick Cavett

Montgomery Clift

Noel Coward

Cheryl Crawford

Betty Davis

Collen Dewhurst

Faye Dunaway

Jane Fonda

Ava Gardner

Jean Genet

Helen Hayes

Katharine Hepburn

John Huston

William Inge

Christopher Isherwood

Margo Jones

Elia Kazan

Burt Lancaster

James Laughlin

Gertrude Lawrence

Vivien Leigh

Joseph Losey

Sidney Lumet

Karl Malden

Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Carol Matthau

David Merrick

Arthur Miller

Yukio Mishmi

Alla Nazimova

Paul Newman

Harold Norse

Laurence Olivier

Ann-Margret Olsson

Anthony Quinn

José Quintero

Harry Rasky

Vanessa Redgrave

Kenneth Rexroth

William Jay Smith

Maureen Stapleton

William Targ

Howard Taubman

Elizabeth Taylor

Laurette Taylor

Kenneth Tynan

Gore Vidal

Luchino Visconti

Shelly Winters

Audrey Wood

Thomas E. Wright

Jane Wyman

Michael York


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Thanks largely to the generosity of Fred Todd, the collection of Williams material has grown at a rapid rate since the initial acquisition in 2001. While virtually every section of the collection has been expanded, the cinema component has seen exceptional growth. Almost two hundred new film stills and off-camera shots have been added, along with more lobby cards, posters, and a press packet for the 1973 ABC television version of The Glass Menagerie starring Katharine Hepburn. The theater section has grown as well with the addition of new playbills; a fine set of photographs by Eileen Darby of Jessica Tandy, Uta Hagen, Vivien Leigh, and Judith Evelyn as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire; and a playscript from the original production of Streetcar that belonged to Irving Schneider, an associate producer.

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One of the most significant additions is the diary of Edwina Dakin Williams for the years 1931 to 1934. Acquired by Fred Todd from the Gotham Book Mart—along with an interesting 1930 letter from Edwina to her father—the diary was the subject of an article by Robert Bray in the Winter 2003 issue of The Historic New Orleans Collection Quarterly. Much of the diary tells of the domestic troubles of the Williams family. On July 26, 1933, Edwina wrote: “I locked my door. The lock did not hold and he [Cornelius] burst in the door with me behind it knocking me unconscious. When I regained my senses, I heard Rose, screaming and a strange voice in the hall, and Cornelius telling him to go away.” The letter also comments on the family’s domestic situation, as well as on Rose’s deteriorating mental condition.

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Another noteworthy addition is the Bill Barnes Papers, acquired from Faulkner House Books, which had obtained it indirectly from the Barnes estate. With the exception of a passport Williams was issued in 1969, the papers consist of correspondence primarily written by Williams from 1971 to 1979. The letters from Tennessee to Bill Barnes cover many topics, both professional and personal. Vieux Carré and The Red Devil Battery Sign are discussed frequently. In a letter dated October 19, 1973, Tennessee writes, “I just now realized that this year is the tenth anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas which gives the opening of ‘Devil’ a special pertinence. I think the panic and rot of our present era really did first manifest itself in full when those murders of JFK and Oswald took place in Dallas: it was the elevation of that Red Devil Battery Sign.” Tennessee’s sister, Rose, is mentioned frequently. In a letter dated July 1, 1976, Tennessee wrote, “As for Miss Rose, I have talked to Dr. Murille on the phone . . . and he is right, that she can only take short vacations, needs a ‘structured environment’ to return to. I’m glad that it’s been established that she can get out for weeks at a time, like Zelda Fitzgerald could, but must have an institution to go back to.” In addition to the letters from Williams to Bill Barnes, there are a few that appear to be for Bill Barnes’s review. For example, there is a May 20, 1973, letter from Williams to Hugh Hefner expressing displeasure over an article that appeared about him and an October 3, 1972, rant to Walter Cronkite complaining about the negative way in which he was covering the McGovern presidential campaign.

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The Papers of Pancho Rodriguez y Gonzales, originally in the possession of Mr. Gonzales’s sister, were also acquired from Faulkner House Books. The papers include a large number of photographs, with both snapshots and studio shots of Williams and Mr. Gonzales dating from the mid-1940s through the 1970s. Among the photographs is an image of Pancho and Tennessee at Pat O’ Brien’s in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, 1962, and a series of snapshots taken in 1946 in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The papers also include correspondence between Mr. Gonzales and Andreas Brown and Lyle Leverich and manuscript drafts of Pancho’s own literary efforts. Of particular interest is a diary that Pancho kept during one of Tennessee’s visits to New Orleans in 1973. Topics described include a dinner party at Tennessee’s apartment, a benefit he attended for the preservation of the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, a visit with local preservationist Clay Shaw, and Tennessee’s reaction upon hearing the news of actress Anna Magnani’s death: “She was such a lonely woman,” he remarked.

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The largest addition in terms of volume was purchased by Fred Todd from another Tennessee Williams collector, John Bounomo. Using the item-level inventories created for the Todd Collection, staff members compared THNOC’s Williams material to that in the Bounomo Collection. Mr. Todd then purchased any items not in THNOC’s holdings. The Bounomo material builds on many sections of the Todd Collection. A significant number of periodicals and playbills and an outstanding assortment of original posters from the Broadway premieres of many of Williams’s plays were acquired from Mr. Bounomo. The cinema component was augmented by additional posters and an interesting collection of Spanish-language lobby cards. Perhaps the quirkiest item among the Bounomo material is an album commemorating the issuance of the Tennessee Williams postage stamp; the stamp was unveiled in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in October 1995.

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The Fred W. Todd Tennessee Williams Collection continues to grow. Items are added on a regular basis, and a vertical file has been established to house incoming ephemeral material related to Williams and Williams-inspired productions. Additionally, the THNOC library staff has undertaken the formidable task of assembling theses and dissertations that relate to Williams and his work. As Mr. Todd continues to build on his legacy, he helps to fulfill the dream of Kemper and Leila Williams when they conceived of The Historic New Orleans Collection thirty-five years ago. With its research facility, exhibit programs, and, most recently, through its involvement with the Tennessee Williams Annual Review, The Collection hopes to continue to contribute to Tennessee Williams’s growing cultural legacy.

Works Cited

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Williams, Tennessee. Vieux Carré. New York: New Directions, 2002.



Number 7