A fragment of a Tennessee Williams play focuses on Katherine Mansfield and D.H. Lawrence
Recently, while on a Research Fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across the first act – ten typewritten pages, with autograph emendations – of an unpublished and unnamed play by Tennessee Williams, with two separate scenes, the first, eight-page scene called “The Night of the Zeppelin” and the second, “Armistice”. The play is listed in Tennessee Williams: A bibliography by Drewey Wayne Gunn as one of the holdings in Texas, and Margaret Bradham Thornton refers to it in a footnote in Tennessee Williams: Notebooks. But the play seems never to have been discussed by scholars until now.
There are four characters in the play: Katharine [ sic] Mansfield, John Middleton Murry, D. H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda. Mansfield and Murry’s friendship with the Lawrences is well documented elsewhere, and was significant to all four of them. Having initially met in mid-1913, the two couples became firm friends almost immediately. Both Frieda and Mansfield were technically married to other men when they first met, and the families of both Lawrence and Murry were shocked at the women their sons had taken up with. In July 1914, Mansfield and Murry were witnesses at the Lawrences’ wedding and Frieda gave Mansfield her old wedding ring, which Mansfield wore for the rest of her life – indeed she was buried wearing it.
Photo: D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Frieda Lawrence and John Middleton Murry