A newly discovered short story by Tennessee Williams has been unearthed at the Harvard University archives.
The previously unpublished short story by the A Streetcar Named Desire author was published for the first time this week in the Strand Magazine.
The Summer Woman (1952) was found in the Tennessee Williams archives at Harvard University’s Houghton Library . The short story was inspired by Williams’ own visits to Italy and follows an American academic who visits Rome every summer to see a woman he had met while she was working the streets. The mood towards him and his fellow Americans changes, however, after the end of the second world war, when hostility grows and anti-American sentiment is rife.
“It had seemed to him each summer that the hard, gentle faces of workmen along the tracks were each time just a little bit harder than the time before and a little less gentle,” he thinks as he travels to Rome by train. “But this time was the first time that, now and then, from an occasional group, a voice was lifted at the passing coaches in a tone that could not be mistaken as friendly.”
Andrew Gulli, managing editor of the Strand was baffled as to why Williams did not publish this particular story. “This is one of the many literary mysteries that has had me scratching my head.”
Gulli explains that the short story seems to be a step out of Williams’ comfort zone, and shows how versatile the author could be.
“With a few broad strokes, Williams evokes the beauty of the country and the genuine friendliness of its people, while masterfully drawing clear parallels between the American protagonist’s seasonal relationship with an Italian prostitute and US entanglements overseas – both rife with conflict, resentment and disillusionment,” added Gulli.