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hargrett library :: past exhibits :: donald windham

The Windham-Campbell Collection of Modern Literature

May 5- June , 1997

 

Donald Windham in Paris, 1948

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1920, Donald Windham left home in 1938 for New York City and the writing life. There he became friends with the young Tennessee Williams, with whom he would collaborate in writing a play, You Touched Me, based on the D.H. Lawrence short story of the same name. This literary friendship between expatriate Southerners would last more than three decades, and would see both go on to considerable literary careers--Williams on Broadway with a number of successful plays that would follow his The Glass Menagerie (1945) to the movie screen, and Windham with a series of published novels, short stories and memoirs, among them his recollections of a literary circle which included writers such as Paul and Jane Bowles, Gore Vidal, and Truman Capote.

Among the unique primary source materials in the Hargrett Library's Windham-Campbell collection at the University of Georgia are original, hand-corrected typescripts of works by both Windham and Williams. Among the materials held by the collection are: original typescripts, galleys, and page proofs of Windham's novel Tanaquil; with marginal comments by Williams and revisions by Windham; an original, corrected typescript of Williams' short story "Portrait of a Girl in Glass" (later to become the play The Glass Menagerie); and the original typescripts, corrected by Williams, of his plays A Streetcar Named Desire and Stairs to the Roof. The collection also includes photocopies of Williams' correspondence to Windham, used in the compilation Letters from Tennessee Williams to Donald Windham, 1944-1960, and containing unpublished material.

Windham in a bar

 

While the collection is known primarily for its strengths in the works of Windham and Williams, it owes its overall existence to the individual attentions of actor-writer Sandy Campbell, Windham's longtime companion, who was both the initial publisher of Tennessee Williams' Letters to Donald Windham, 1945-1960 (Verona : Stamperia Valdonega, 1976) and the donor through whom the collection came into being at the University of Georgia in 1979.

 

An actor whose theatrical credits included the original cast of A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as productions starring the Lunts, Spencer Tracy, Tallulah Bankhead and Sir John Gielgud, Campbell also wrote for the New Yorker and, from the 1950s up to his death in 1988, published a number of limited-edition books including his own memoir of Tallulah Bankhead, memoirs by Windham of Williams and Truman Capote, and books of Windham's correspondence from Williams and E. M. Forster.

Windham with E.M. Forster

Campbell with E.M. Forster

Such revealing chronicles as these, of this formidable circle of twentieth-century authors, thus complement the numerous original and revised manuscripts of the Windham-Campbell collection. And in addition to these titles, the Hargrett Library has received some hundreds of others from the Windham-Campbell library, many bearing inscriptions and comments by Windham, Williams, and their contemporaries such as Kay Boyle, Katherine Ann Porter, James Purdy, Glenway Westcott and others, filling out an already substantial archive of mid-twentieth century American literature available to scholars of this era.

 


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