Tennessee Williams was one of the greatest American playwrights of all time. Born into a family with a strong history of serious mental illness, Williams seemed to have had several major depressive episodes during his early adulthood, along with severe and worsening alcohol and drug dependence and abuse involving sedatives and stimulants throughout his adult life. He received treatment of variable quality and duration in middle and old age. Despite his mental illness, Williams continued to be a productive writer even after age 60, although his later works were less successful. The authors consider both the strengths and limitations of Williams' coping mechanisms.