Description: The Glass Menagerie is a play by Tennessee Williams that was originally written as a screenplay for MGM, to whom Williams was contracted. Initial ideas stemmed from one of his short stories, and the screenplay originally went under the name of 'The Gentleman Caller'. The play premiered in Chicago in 1944, and in 1945 won the prestigious New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The Glass Menagerie was Williams's first successful play; he went on to become one of America's most highly regarded playwrights.
The play was reworked from one of Williams's short stories "Portrait of a Girl in Glass" (written June 1943, published 1948). The story is also written from the point of view of narrator Tom Wingfield, and many of his monologues from Glass Menagerie seem lifted straight from this original. Certain elements have clearly been omitted from the play, including the reasoning for Laura's fascination with Jim's freckles (linked to a book she owned about a one-armed orphan) and an area by the house known as "Death Valley" that Laura's room looks out on. Generally the story contains the same plot as the play, with certain sections given more emphasis, and character details edited (Jim originally calls Tom "Slim", not "Shakespeare").
The Glass Menagerie is accounted by many to be an autobiographical play about Williams's life, the characters and story mimicking his own more closely than any of his other works. Williams (whose real name is Thomas) would be Tom, his Mother, Amanda, and his sickly and (supposedly) mentally ill sister Rose would be Laura (whose nickname in the play is "Blue Roses", a result of an unfortunate bout of Pleurosis as a high school student). It has been suggested as well that the character of Laura is based upon Williams himself, referencing his introvert nature and obsessive focus on one part of life (writing for Williams and glass animals in Laura's case.).