Lot 282

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Williams Tennessee

Tennessee Williams Signed Check to Lover Robert Carroll, PSA/DNA Slabbed


PSA/DNA slabbed check signed by American playwright Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) as “Tennessee Williams” on the payee line. The oversized check is orange with a basket weave pattern. Hand inscribed "For Deposit Only / A/c #39-194-2" verso. Bearing normal bank cancellation marks. Graded by PSA/DNA as NM-MT 8. The check measures 8.5" x 3.5" while the slab measures 12.375" x 5.5".


Check No. 2749 was drawn on the account of "Tennessee Williams c/o Julius Lefkowitz and Company" at Chase Manhattan Bank of New York, New York on March 16, 1978. Agents were directed to pay $242.74 to Robert Carroll of Key West, Florida.


Robert Carroll (born 1947) was Tennessee Williams's much younger lover. Carroll was a West Virginia-born Vietnam War veteran and aspiring novelist who met Williams in 1972. Of Carroll, Williams wrote in a May 1973 letter: "The trouble is that he [Carroll] plays on my sympathies and on my acute loneliness. You really don't seem to know how awful it is to be alone at my age - and 'gay.' He makes himself so pathetic at times…" Carroll and Williams carried on a long and tormented romance until 1979. Their mutually destructive relationship was fueled by the drug addiction and emotional instability of each. Carroll's 887pp memoir Chez Nous: My Intimate Life with Tennessee Williams, published in 2016, describes his relationship with the aging playwright.


Tennessee Williams had purchased a yellow clapboarded farmhouse at 1431 Duncan Street in Key West in 1950 and lived there intermittently until his death some 30 years later.


Williams had just finished working on his play Vieux Carre the year before signing this check. Inspired by Williams's experience living at 722 Toulouse Street in New Orleans in the late 1930s, Williams continued writing the play over the next nearly 40 years. Characters include a frustrated landlady, a young writer, a sick artist, a dying socialite, a drug addict, a gay photographer, and two elderly women. Not well-reviewed, Vieux Carre was only performed 6 times at St. James Theater on Broadway in May 1977.


Tennessee Williams was a college dropout who worked a variety of odd jobs before achieving literary success with The Glass Menagerie (1944). Williams' intensely emotional work was mostly autobiographical, and typically wrestled with themes like truth versus illusion, sexuality, social class, violence, and Southern identity. His Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof were huge Broadway successes. In his later life, Williams struggled with drug dependency, depression, and personal loss. He died of accidental choking in 1983.



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Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000