Live sea star © Author Adventures

Tennessee Williams at The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) knew and visited several writer friends in Key West. He does not have a home there that is open to the public, but if you are in Key West to see the house of Ernest Hemingway or to bird-watch like John James Audubon, you might also like to stop at the church where the Pulitzer Prize-winning twentieth century playwright was baptized at The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea (1010 Windsor Lane, Key West).

An excellent article about Tennessee Williams’s spiritual life, including how this unusual baptism came about, can be found here: America Magazine. This article points out:

“Dakin contacted Father LeRoy, pastor of the Church of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Key West, Fla., where Williams lived, who agreed to visit him several times. Williams was heavily medicated at the time of the priest’s visits but expressed the hope that a Catholic baptism would help him ‘get [his] goodness back.’ Yet the baptism was, technically speaking, conditional, as Williams had already been baptized in the Episcopal Church as an infant by his grandfather, the Rev. Walter Dakin. Although the Catholic Church recognizes the validity of other Christian baptisms, Father Leroy said that ‘it was Mr. Williams’s wish, in the interest of his own spiritual and emotional needs at the time, that the rite be repeated.'”

The America Magazine article provides important additional information about what happened next.

You can also read about Tennessee Williams through our Louisiana section, our New York section (Hotel Elysee), and even more about him through our Mississippi section.

His Works

Read about the writer’s top five works here: Among them are A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, all of which later became major feature films starring some of the most popular actors and actresses of the day.

This is the ninth stop on Florida Author Adventures Trail #2, following the optional stop in the Florida Everglades.

Patricia Smart