Like many of his contemporaries, William Inge (1913 - 1973) drew inspiration as a playwright from his own life experiences. Similar to the Picnic character Flo Owens, Inge's mother ran a boardinghouse that at one time was home for three single schoolteachers. Inge's own personal struggle with depression and alcoholism are a recurring themes in his work.
However, one of the most influential moments occurred in 1943 when Inge took a position as the drama and music critic for the St. Louis Times. He travelled with a then-struggling playwright, Tennessee Williams, to review the first production of The Glass Menagerie in Chicago. “I was terrifically moved by the play,” said Inge. “I thought it was the finest (play) I had seen in many years. I went back to St. Louis and felt, ‘Well, I’ve got to write a play.’”
Within three months he had completed Farther Off From Heaven. This was followed by a series of critical and popular Broadway sucesses: Come Back, Little Sheba (1950), Picnic (1953), Bus Stop (1955), and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957). Find out more about the life and work of William Inge in our Audience Guide!