Tennessee Williams in Key West

Tennessee Williams in Key WestIn the early twentieth century, Key West hosted a fascinating mix of fishermen, spongers, rumrunners, and cigar manufacturers. Located more than 100 miles from the mainland – and before the overseas highway simplified the trip – it also attracted many artists and writers with its untamed, tropical frontier attitude.

Tennessee Williams was 30 years old when he first came to Key West in 1941. He lived in a boarding house in town until he found and purchased a clapboard Bahamian cottage just outside of town at 1431 Duncan Street. He gradually turned the lot into a compound complete with guest cottage, swimming pool and a small writing studio that he named “the Mad House.”

Life in Key West was not always easy for Williams. One late night in 1979 he was mugged while walking down Duval Street singing a Protestant hymn at the top of his lungs. His house had been robbed and vandalized, and later his gardener was found murdered. During the course of the investigation, police discovered that the man had been systematically stealing outtakes from Williams’ wastebasket. This was especially disturbing for Williams because he considered these to be substandard work, and knowing they had been stolen did little to help his notorious case of writer’s block.

Despite these troubles, Williams loved Key West. In a letter he wrote just a few years before The Glass Menagerie was first staged, Williams referred to Key West as “the real stuff,” and “the most fantastic place that I have been yet in America.” Although he spent a good deal of his time living and travelling through Europe and the US, Williams was embraced as a true Key West resident. When he died in 1983, an alternative cinema on Duval Street screened The Rose Tattoo, a movie based upon his life, non-stop throughout the afternoon and evening.

The attractions that captivated those early pioneering residents of Key West remain to this day. Fabulous tropical weather, a sense of isolation from life’s everyday routines, and the freedom to explore individuality are elements of timeless appeal. I have been selling Key West real estate for over 30 years to people from all over the world, and my free relocation packet and personalized, professional service can guide you to your perfect Key West home. Contact me today by phone at Margarita Villoch 305-304-8505, by email at margarita@isellkw.com, or on the web at www.isellkw.com and find your Key West inspiration!