The playwright's life is traced to a childhood characterized by excessive attachment to the female members of the family and a marked aversion to his very own virile, poker-playing Big Daddy. He is turned inward-hypersensitized-by a protracted illness, by the loss of his sister's friendship on becoming a woman, by being uprooted from Mississippi to St. Louis. He goes through the usual early failures. (""Well"", said a playwriting professor to young Thomas Williams, ""I guess we all have to paint our ."") Nelson takes Williams' plays chronologically and analyzes them textually, comparatively, biographically. To the author, Williams is a poet of the theatre whose protagonists search romantically though defeated from birth by an incomplete, fragmented universe. When his creations struggle against those forces which would whittle their sensibilities, objective and meaningful results; when their only act is withdrawal, the poetry alone endures. A comprehensive study of this chronicler of noble neurasthenics, this book will be of interest to all students of contemporary drama.