Of all the places closely associated with Tennessee Williams and his
work--New Orleans, the Mississippi Delta, Key West--Columbus, Mississippi,
holds a unique spot, for it was here that Thomas Lanier Williams, who
would grow up to become the twentieth century's premier playwright, was
born March 26, 1911. His grandfather, the Rev. Walter Dakin, rector at the
Episcopal church, was preaching the Palm Sunday sermon while his grandson
was being born at a local clinic. Although the family remained in Columbus
only a few years, the collective memory of the place that they took away
was passed on to Tennessee, many of whose plays reflected a fascination
with the old South, with its ante-bellum and Victorian mansions, with its
charm and a way of life that is gone with the wind.
Today the visitor to Columbus can relish the abundance of beautiful old mansions, both pre- and post-Civil War, that line its quiet, tree-shaded streets. The Episcopal rectory in which Reverend Dakin, his wife, his daughter Edwina, and her two children, Rose and Tom, lived has been wonderfully preserved as a visitors' center, and many of the classical Southern mansions are open for tours.
The annual Tennessee Williams Celebration in the town that gave him birth includes a varied programs of scholarly lectures, dramatic presentations, and social gatherings in which the renowned "Southern hospitality" is abundantly in evidence.
Concurrent with the celebration is a tour of Victorian homes in which participants can get a glimpse of the world that inspired the playwright.
Dr. Kenneth Holditch