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Tennessee Williams, Portrait of a Madonna : A World Video Production : playscript

Identifier: MSS 0099-F1028

Scope and Contents

Portrait of a Madonna is a script for a one-act play written by Tennessee Williams and produced by ABC Television in 1948.

The mimeographed script includes information on the cast, director, narrator, and producer of this performance for “Actor’s Studio,” which aired on ABC Television in September 1948. The script is also prefaced by information on costumes, music, sets, and rehearsal schedules. In addition to dialogue and stage directions, the script also includes video and audio directions.

The script centers on Miss Lucretia Collins, played by Jessica Tandy, and traces her mental deterioration, culminating in her institutionalization.


  • Creation: 1948


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical / Historical

Portrait of a Madonna was produced as the first episode of “Actor’s Studio” and aired in September 1948 on ABC Television. The play was directed by Hume Cronyn and starred his wife, Jessica Tandy. Tennessee Williams, born Thomas Lanier Williams on March 26, 1911, in Columbus, Mississippi, began his literary career at the age of 16 with the publication of his essay, "Can a Good Wife Be a Good Sport?" in Smart Set (May 1927).

After graduating in 1929 from University City High School, St. Louis, Missouri, Williams enrolled at the University of Missouri. His first play, Beauty Is the Word was produced at the University in 1930 and won honorable mention in a campus contest. Because of the difficulties of the Depression, Tennessee Williams was forced to take a job at the St. Louis Shoe Company in 1931 and by 1932 left the University. During the years that followed Williams continued to write and in 1935 he won first prize in the St. Louis Writers Guild contest for his story, "Stella for Star." Between 1935 and 1938, when he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa, over thirty of his poems and short stories were published and several of his plays produced. Some of these early plays included Cairo Shanghai, Bombay!, The Magic Grove, Candles to the Sun, and The Fugitive Kind.

In 1939 his story, "The Field of Blue Children," was the first published under his newly assumed name, Tennessee Williams. By 1939 Williams had also begun to travel extensively. His destinations included New York, New Orleans, Acapulco, Provincetown, Macon (Georgia), Key West (Florida), and Taos (New Mexico). During his travels Williams worked at odd jobs, including a period as a scriptwriter for Hollywood. He continued to write and had several of his plays produced.

In 1944 the production of his play, The Glass Menagerie, initiated a period of financial success and critical and popular acclaim for Williams. The Glass Menagerie ran for 561 performances in New York and won the Drama Critics' Circle Award. Followed by several plays of lesser success, in 1947 Williams again scored a hit with A Streetcar Named Desire, which had a run of 855 performances. A Streetcar Named Desire not only won a second Drama Critic's Circle Award for Williams, but a Pulitzer Prize as well.

In the following years Tennessee Williams continued to create numerous plays, including Summer and Smoke (1948), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955, won a second Pulitzer Prize), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), Period of Adjustment (1960), The Night of the Iguana (1961), and Small Craft Warnings (1972).

Fifteen of Tennessee Williams's plays or stories were also adapted to film and became classics. Some of the better known films are The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Night of the Iguana.

In addition to his plays, Williams wrote short stories which were included in the collections One Arm (1948) and Hard Candy (1954); essays, some of which were collected in Where I Live (1978); novels, including The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1950) and Moise and the World of Reason (1975); a collection of poems titled Androgyne, Mon Amour (1977); and his autobiographical Memoirs (1975). Although Tennessee Williams died on February 25, 1983, his work continues to be widely performed and he is recognized as one of America's foremost playwrights of the twentieth century.

Gunn, Drewey Wayne. Tennessee Williams: a Bibliography. Second edition. Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1991. pp. ix-xviii.Johns, Sally. "Tennessee Williams," Twentieth-Century American Dramatists. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Part II, Volume 7. Detroit: Gale Research, 1981. pp. 320-350.MSS 0112, Tennessee Williams collection, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.Information derived from the collection.


1 volume (1 playscript)


Portrait of a Madonna is a script for a one-act play written by Tennessee Williams and produced by ABC Television in 1948.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, November 2016.

Related Materials

This item forms part of MSS 0099 Miscellaneous Literary and Historical Manuscripts.

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0112 Tennessee Williams collection

Shelving Summary

Box 70, F1028: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes

OCLC Number

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, June 2017.

Finding aid for Tennessee Williams, Portrait of a Madonna : A World Video Production : playscript
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2017 June 28
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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