Harvard to Resolve Williams's Estate

Two Universities to Arrange Distribution of Playwright's Belongings

The University and other recipients of Tennessee Williams's estate are close to finding a future home for the late playwright's notes and original manuscripts, bequeathed to Harvard upon his death last year.

Harvard officials will meet this winter with representatives from the University of the South and the executors and trustees of Williams's estate to determine the final allocation of the deceased playwright's manuscripts and personal belongings.

Williams, who died February 25, 1983, left the bulk of his estate, valued between $3 million and $10 million, to fund a center for aspiring creative writers at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. But he left his original manuscripts, notes and notebooks to Harvard.


At the winter meeting, the two universities will probably discuss trade or loan deals for the estate material, Edward W. Watson, legal counsel for the University of the South, said yesterday.


Martin Michaelson, deputy general counsel for Harvard, confirmed that the two universities and the trustees of Williams' estate will negotiate the future of the playwright's belongings.

A group in Key West, Florida, where Williams lived out the last years of his life, will ask the two schools to donate or lend some of Williams's belongings to start a museum, perhaps located in Williams's home, Watson said.


"I don't anticipate any hard bargaining. Everybody is going to be interested in doing the best they can to carry out Tennessee Williams's intentions," Watson said.

None of Williams's belongings will be distributed by the trustees before the death of the playwrights's 73-year-old sister Rose, who had a lobotomy at the age of 24 and now, lives in an upstate New York sanitarium.

Until then, the proceeds from the estate and the incoming royalties will pay for all of Rose Williams's expenses, with the remainder going back into the estate, according to Watson.

The meeting between all the involved parties was originally scheduled for this fall, but had to be postponed because of the death of Lord St. Just, the husband of Lady St. Just, one of the two trustees of the will and a personal friend of Williams.


The negotiations follow a recently resolved lawsuit against the estate by Dakin Williams, Williams's brother.

Dakin Williams, who was left only $25,000 by his brother, claimed that others had undue influence on his brother's writing of the will, that his brother was not competent when he wrote the will, and that his brother was mad at him because he (Dakin Williams) had put Tennesse Williams in an alcoholic rehabilitation center in the 1960s, Watson said.

Latham Davis, director of public relations at the University of the South, said an out of court settlement was made in April, 1984, which called for a $100,000 payment to Dakin Williams. The payment included the original $25,000.

"This was really a nuisance value settlement because it would have cost the estate more to go on with the litigation than to pay him this amount of money," Watson said.

The case for Dakin Williams was quashed when the estate's lawyers found three prior wills, dating back 10 to 12 years, all of which cut Dakin Williams off with $25,000, Watson said.

"For Dakin Williams to get anything, he had to prove this will invalid and all three prior wills invalid. This was an almost impossible task," Watson added.