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Released August 05, 2004


HATTIESBURG - An English professor at The University of Southern Mississippi has published a new reference book on Tennessee Williams, the Mississippi-born playwright who wrote more than 70 plays over his 50-year career.

Dr. Philip C. Kolin is the editor of "The Tennessee Williams Encyclopedia," published by Greenwood Press, an internationally famous publisher of reference books in the humanities.

Three years in the making, the book contains l60 entries written by 56 Williams scholars from around the world. Kolin wrote over 30 of the entries himself. The encyclopedia is the most up-to-date work on Williams, with entries on his plays, poems, fiction, films, essays, memoirs and paintings, as well as on the many individuals who played a major role in his life and in his work.

"It is impossible to turn a page of this book without learning something new about Williams or his work," said C. W. E. Bigsby, professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. "It is an astonishing resource, invaluable not only to those interested in Williams but also to those trying to understand American cultural history."

Each entry on a Williams play provides an interpretation of the plot, characters, symbols, and influences as well as a production history including the premiere and major revivals and adaptations.

"Williams seemed to have worked with almost every major actor and director in American theater," Kolin said. The encyclopedia contains entries on key producers, directors (especially Elia Kazan, who collaborated with Williams), scenographers, and actors. Among the latter are entries on Vivien Leigh, Jessica Tandy, Eli Wallach,

Karl Malden, Maureen Stapleton, Tallulah Bankhead, and of course Marlon Brando, who got his start in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

A major feature separating Kolin's Williams encyclopedia from other reference works is the inclusion of essay-length entries on key concepts and ideologies central to understanding Williams' work--sexuality and gender, religion, race, politics, mythology, plastic theatre, Southern culture and literature, etc.

Kolin also supplied a detailed chronology that lists Williams' achievements, as well as a classified bibliography of scholarship on the playwright and his times.

"'The Tennessee Williams Encyclopedia' is an invaluable resource for scholars, students, actors, and directors," said Una Chaudhurri, chair of the drama department at New York University.

"Kolin, a Williams scholar of great distinction, brings his critical expertise and editorial skill to this authoritative and judicious account of the essential Tennessee Williams," Chaudhurri added.

Kolin, the first Charles W. Moorman Alumni Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, has written more than 25 books and nearly 200 articles, many of them on Williams and other American playwrights including Edward Albee, David Rabe, and Adrienne Kennedy. Kolin is also the general editor of the Routledge Shakespeare Criticism series and with his wife, Dr. Maureen Curley, is inaugurating a new poetry journal this year titled "Lilies: A Journal of Sacramental Poetry."

"The Tennessee Williams Encyclopedia" is available at the Southern Miss bookstore and at


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August 31, 2004 3:22 PM