127+ Best Tennessee Williams Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Thomas Lanier Williams III, known by his pen name Tennessee Williams, was an American playwright. Profoundly inspirational Tennessee Williams quotes will challenge the way you think, change the way you live and transform your whole life.

If you’re searching for quotes from greatest authors that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of quotes from Tom Robbins, powerful Toni Morrison quotes and famous Wendell Berry quotes.

Famous Tennessee Williams Quotes

At the age of fourteen I discovered writing as an escape from a world of reality in which I felt acutely uncomfortable. – Tennessee Williams

And funerals are pretty compared to deaths. – Tennessee Williams

All my life I have been haunted by the obsession that to desire a thing or to love a thing intensely is to place yourself in a vulnerable position, to be a possible, if not a probable, loser of what you most want. Let’s leave it like that. – Tennessee Williams

I’m tired and it’s taking an increasing amount out of me, more than I have to give physically. And that’s why I want to move to Sicily and buy that little farm and raise a flock of goats and geese. I find it peaceful and it would be a nice way to end life. – Tennessee Williams

The object of art is to make eternal the desperately fleeting moment. – Tennessee Williams

There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go. – Tennessee Williams

Everyone says he’s sincere, but everyone isn’t sincere.If everyone was sincere who says he’s sincere there wouldn’t be half so many insincere ones in the world and there would be lots, lots, lots more really sincere ones! – Tennessee Williams

You’re simple, straightforward and honest, a little bit on the primitive side, I should think. To interest you a woman would have to… -To lay her cards out on the table. – Tennessee Williams

Nothing’s more determined than a cat on a hot tin roof. – Tennessee Williams

I don’t want realism. I’ll tell you what I want. Magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth. I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it! – Tennessee Williams

Walls are built up between people a hell of a damn sight faster than–broken down. – Tennessee Williams

Girls that aren’t cut out for business careers usually wind up married to some nice man. – Tennessee Williams

There is no pleasure in the world like writing well and going fast. – Tennessee Williams

Revolution begins in putting on bright colors. – Tennessee Williams

Youth must be wanton, youth must be quick, Dance to the candle while lasteth the wick. – Tennessee Williams

Nothing human disgusts me unless it’s unkind. – Tennessee Williams

We are all civilized people, wich means that we are all savages at heart but observing a few amenities of civilized behaviour. – Tennessee Williams

The mountain violets break the rocks. – Tennessee Williams

There’s no better credit card in the world than driving up at a bank door in a Cadillac limousine. – Tennessee Williams

Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental. It is not realistic. – Tennessee Williams

It’s interesting, isn’t it? The chandelier it reminds me of mushroom soup. – Tennessee Williams

I try to work every day because you have no refuge but writing. When you’re going through a period of unhappiness, a broken love affair, the death of someone you love, or some other disorder in your life, then you have no refuge but writing. – Tennessee Williams

Go, then! Go to the moon-you selfish dreamer! – Tennessee Williams

To be free is to have achieved your life. – Tennessee Williams

And then the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that’s stronger than this-kitchen-candle. – Tennessee Williams

It’s hard enough for me to write what I want to write without me trying to write what you say they want me to write which I don’t want to write. – Tennessee Williams

Friends are God’s way of apologizing to us for our families – Tennessee Williams

Only animals have to satisfy instincts! Surely your aims are somewhat higher than theirs! Than monkeys! Pigs! – Tennessee Williams

If I am no longer disturbed myself, I will deal less with disturbed people and with violent material. I don’t regret having concerned myself with such people, because I think that most of us are disturbed. – Tennessee Williams

For time is the longest distance between two places. – Tennessee Williams

Somebody said once or wrote, once: ‘We’re all of us children in a vast kindergarten trying to spell God’s name with the wrong alphabet blocks! – Tennessee Williams

I don’t believe anyone ever suspects how completely unsure I am of my work and myself and what tortures of self-doubting the doubt of others has always given me. – Tennessee Williams

The strongest influences in my life and my work are always whomever I love. Whomever I love and am with most of the time, or whomever I remember most vividly. I think that’s true of everyone, don’t you? – Tennessee Williams

Make voyages. Attempt them. There’s nothing else. – Tennessee Williams

When I write I don’t aim to shock people, and I’m surprised when I do. But I don’t think that anything that occurs in life should be omitted from art, though the artist should present it in a fashion that is artistic and not ugly. I set out to tell the truth. And sometimes the truth is shocking. – Tennessee Williams

Enthusiasm is the most important thing in life. – Tennessee Williams

Don’t look forward to the day you stop suffering, because when it comes you’ll know you’re dead. – Tennessee Williams

Like a cat on a hot tin roof. – Tennessee Williams

We live on two levels the realistic level and the fantastic level, and which is the real one, really? – Tennessee Williams

We are all of us born, live and die in the shadow of a giant question mark that refers to three questions: Where do we come from? Why? And where, oh where, are we going! – Tennessee Williams

Snatching the eternal out of the desperately fleeting is the great magic trick of human existence. – Tennessee Williams

Jim lights a cigarette and leans indolently back on his elbow smiling at Laura with a warmth and charm which lights her inwardly with altar candles. – Tennessee Williams

An artist must believe in himself – Possibly not so passionately as Lawrence – but passionately. Your belief is contagious. Others say – He is vain – but they are affected. – Tennessee Williams

Blanche: No, I have the misfortune of being an English instructor. I attempt to instill a bunch of bobby-soxers and drugstore Romeos with a reverence for Hawthorne and Whitman and Poe! – Tennessee Williams

And it was about then, about that time, that I began to find life unsatisfactory as an explanation of itself and was forced to adopt the method of the artist of not explaining but putting the blocks together in some other way that seems more significant to him. Which is a rather fancy way of saying I started writing. – Tennessee Williams

They chatter together like birds on Cypress Hill, but all they say is ‘Live, live, live, live, live!’ It’s all they’ve learned, it’s the only advice they can give. – Tennessee Williams

The theatre is a place where one has time for the problems of people to whom one would show the door if they came to one’s office for a job. – Tennessee Williams

I’m a poet. And then I put the poetry in the drama. I put it in short stories, and I put it in the plays. Poetry’s poetry. It doesn’t have to be called a poem, you know. – Tennessee Williams

When things don’t change, their sameness becomes an accretion. That is why all society puts on flesh. Succumbs to the cubicles and begins to fill them. – Tennessee Williams

Don’t you think there is always something unspoken between two people? – Tennessee Williams

Only some radical change can divert the downward course of my spirit, some startling new place or people to arrest the drift, the drag. – Tennessee Williams

All good art is an indiscretion. – Tennessee Williams

We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it. – Tennessee Williams

I’m not in sympathy with Communism except for populations which are in a state of peasantry, actually hungry and starving. The ideal state for me is some form of Socialism, which doesn’t yet exist, as far as I know, which doesn’t repress the arts, or any race. Consequently I’m not a political person except that I’m a revolutionary. – Tennessee Williams

Nobody sees anybody truly, but all through the flaws of their own ego. – Tennessee Williams

How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken. – Tennessee Williams

I respect a person that has had to fight and howl for his decency. – Tennessee Williams

Marriage is an economic arrangement in many ways, let’s face it. – Tennessee Williams

Physical beauty is passing – a transitory possession – but beauty of the mind, richness of the spirit, tenderness of the heart – I have all these things – aren’t taken away but grow! Increase with the years! – Tennessee Williams

The rest of my days I’m going to spend on the sea. And when I die, I’m going to die on the sea. You know what I shall die of? I shall die of eating an unwashed grape. One day out on the ocean I will die with my hand in the hand of some nice-looking ship’s doctor, a very young one with a small blond moustache and a big silver watch. – Tennessee Williams

Why is it so damn hard for people to talk? – Tennessee Williams

Kenneth Hari does not paint portraits as they are but as he is. I feel he is hiding something from me. To board a train into his mind would give me a ride into dark adventure. – Tennessee Williams

The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly colored but torn away from the branches. I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something. It always came upon me unawares, taking me altogether by surprise. Perhaps it was a familiar bit of music. Perhaps it was only a piece of transparent glass. – Tennessee Williams

America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland. – Tennessee Williams

All pretty girls are a trap, a pretty trap, and men expect them to be. – Tennessee Williams

William Saroyan wrote a great play on this theme, that purity of heart is the one success worth having. In the time of your life–live! That time is short and it doesn’t return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, loss, loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition. – Tennessee Williams

I’m much more conscious of historical events since the ’60s. In the ’60s, I was insulated by my own addictions, my own lifestyle, from what was going on in the world. After I recovered I was amazed at certain people who had died. I hadn’t noticed that they had gone. Not friends … I’m talking about public figures who had passed away. – Tennessee Williams

You’ll be surprised how infinitely merciful they [these tablets] are. The prescription number is 96814. I think of it as the telephone number of God! – Tennessee Williams

I’ve got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live? – Tennessee Williams

People go to the movies instead of moving. Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them. – Tennessee Williams

If you can’t be yourself, what’s the point of being anyone else? – Tennessee Williams

All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness. – Tennessee Williams

I don’t think there is such a thing as a precise sexual orientation. I think we’re all ambiguous sexually. – Tennessee Williams

A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace. – Tennessee Williams

The name of a person you love is more than language. – Tennessee Williams

Some things are not forgiveable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgiveable. It is the most unforgiveable thing in my opinion, and the one thing in which I have never, ever been guilty. – Tennessee Williams

It’s to a writer’s advantage to contain within himself elements of each sex, or any sex. It’s to his advantage because it makes him able to write from the female point of view as well as the male. In some cases, of course, you will find some homosexual writers who can only write from a f – – -‘s point of view. But I don’t regard myself as a fuck! Some people may. Also audiences wanted escapism. They don’t like too much protest or criticism of their way of life. – Tennessee Williams

I always said little Truman had a voice so high it could only be detected by bats. – Tennessee Williams

Val: Why do you go out there? Sandra: Because dead people give such good advice. Val: What advice do they give? Sandra: Just one word- live! – Tennessee Williams

I talk out the lines as I write them. – Tennessee Williams

The world is a funny paper read backwards. And that way it isn’t so funny. – Tennessee Williams

Luck is believing you’re lucky. – Tennessee Williams

I believe that the silence of God, the absolute speechlessness of Him is a long, long, and awful thing that the whole world is lost because of. – Tennessee Williams

Take by surprise and the world gives up resistance. – Tennessee Williams

A prayer for the wild at heart kept in cages. – Tennessee Williams

Life is an unanswered question, but let’s still believe in the dignity and importance of the question. – Tennessee Williams

How long does it have to go on? This punishment? Haven’t I done time enough, haven’t I served my term? can’t I apply for a-pardon? – Tennessee Williams

Man is by instinct a lover, a hunter, a fighter, and none of those instincts are given much play at the warehouse! – Tennessee Williams

Liquor is one way out an’ death’s the other. – Tennessee Williams

What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains. – Tennessee Williams

When I was fourteen, my father decided to initiate me into the ways of manhood, and took me to the local whorehouse. The woman spread her legs, and made me look between them. All I could see was something that looked like a dyin’ orchid; consequently, I have never been comfortable around women or orchids. – Tennessee Williams

You said, ‘They’re harmless dreamers and they’re loved by the people.’ ‘What,’ I asked you, ‘is harmless about a dreamer, and what,’ I asked you, ‘is harmless about the love of the people? Revolution only needs good dreamers who remember their dreams. – Tennessee Williams

My ’60s plays were as good as most of the other plays I’ve written … except I wasn’t in a condition to refine them, to help in the rehearsal, or do anything. I was hardly conscious of what was going on except during the hours of the day when I was actually writing … and that was with the aid of speed. – Tennessee Williams

Time goes by so fast. Nothin’ can outrun it. Death commences too early–almost before you’re half-acquainted with life you meet the other. – Tennessee Williams

Living with someone you love can be lonelier than living entirely alone, if the on that you love doesn’t love you. – Tennessee Williams

The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that’s also a hypocrite! – Tennessee Williams

We’re left alone with each other. We have to creep close to each other and give gentle little nudges with our paws and our muzzles before we can slip into sleep and rest for the next day’s playtime. – Tennessee Williams

For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura — and so goodbye. . . . – Tennessee Williams

Just another four-letter word. – Tennessee Williams

In all these years, you never believed I loved you. And I did. I did so much. I did love you. I even loved your hate and your hardness. – Tennessee Williams

I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding. – Tennessee Williams

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. – Tennessee Williams

Personal lyricism is the outcry of prisoner to prisoner from the cell in solitary where each is confined for the duration of his life. – Tennessee Williams

Morning can always be counted on to bring us back to a more realistic level. – Tennessee Williams

But since I have a poet’s weakness for symbols, I am using this character also as a symbol; he is the long-delayed but always expected something that we live for. – Tennessee Williams

You know, then that the public Somebody you are when you ‘have a name’ is a fiction created with mirrors and that the only somebody worth being is the solitary and unseen you that existed from your first breath – Tennessee Williams

Glass breaks so easily. No matter how careful you are. – Tennessee Williams

Death is one moment, and life is so many of them. – Tennessee Williams

You see, baby, after a glass or two of wine I’m inclined to extravagance. – Tennessee Williams

There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors. – Tennessee Williams

Perhaps the most vivid recollection of my youth is that of the local wheelmen, led by my father, stopping at our home to eat pone, sip mint juleps, and flog the field hands. This more than anything cultivated my life-long aversion to bicycles. – Tennessee Williams

Being disappointed is one thing and being discouraged is something else. I am disappointed but I am not discouraged. – Tennessee Williams

Guessing isn’t knowing. – Tennessee Williams

The only unforgivable sin is deliberate cruelty. – Tennessee Williams

We are all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life. – Tennessee Williams

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks. – Tennessee Williams

You can be young without money but you can’t be old without it. – Tennessee Williams

I gave up visiting my psychoanalyst because he was meddling too much in my private life. – Tennessee Williams

Well, honey, a shot never does a coke any harm! – Tennessee Williams

I met her last summer on a moonlight boat trip. – Tennessee Williams

Devils can be driven out of the heart by the touch of a hand on a hand, or a mouth on a mouth. – Tennessee Williams

We lose the magic whenever we stop telling our story and begin to wonder how we’re doing, if we’re selling it, if the listener likes us. Just tell the story and go on to the next one. All of us are full of stories the world might want to hear. – Tennessee Williams

There is only one true aristocracy and that is the aristocracy of passionate souls! – Tennessee Williams

I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really. – Tennessee Williams

There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people. Some are a little better or a little worse, but all are activated more by misunderstanding than malice. A blindness to what is going on in each other’s hearts. – Tennessee Williams

The nervous system of any age or nation is its creative workers, its artists. And if that nervous system is profoundly disturbed by its environment, the work it produces will inescapably reflect the disturbances, sometimes obliquely and sometimes with violent directness. – Tennessee Williams

And so tonight we’re going to make the lie true, and when that’s done, I’ll bring the liquor back here and we’ll get drunk together, here, tonight, in this place that death has come into… – Tennessee Williams

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