Did Mizzou Inspire Tennessee Williams' Long-Lost Story About Drunken Sex in College?

Categories: Book Club

In the story, students gather for an end-of-semester, ritualistic binge on alcohol and sex, pairing men and women together "in a very businesslike manner, almost like vaccination the first day of school, each boy being allowed about five minutes, going in sort of white and trembling and coming out very loud and excited with a sheepish look on his face -- indicating quite plainly the difference between an initial success or failure in the sexual skirmish."

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While other writers shied away from explicit sex, Williams' prose celebrates the "ultimate degree of intimacy" as his narrator has sex with Anna Jean before losing her to another student.

"Both her arms were lifted toward me," Williams writes. "I had fallen between them. And the rest of what happened between us was a blind thing, almost involuntary, drawing from us both something that seemed hardly a part of ourselves."

Anna Jean O'Donnell didn't hold Williams' heart for long. His eventual target was a boy named Smitty, according to the New York Times, who eventually "brushed him off."

Williams, who graduated from University City High School, attended Mizzou from 1929 to 1931 and studied at Washington University between 1936 and 1938.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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