The friendship began as a correspondence. Williams had read McCullers’s novel The Member of the Wedding and wrote to her how much he liked it. In 1946, The Glass Menagerie had finally put Williams on the map. He moved to Nantucket and tried to complete his next play, which would end up being A Streetcar Named Desire. He worked on other pieces as well, things that had been percolating for a couple of years (Summer and Smoke., Camino Real). He had found out that McCullers was a distant cousin of Jordan Massee (a dear friend of Williams at this time), so he wrote to McCullers and asked her to join him on Nantucket. This was quite uncharacteristic of Williams. He was a social man, despite his attacks of nerves and shyness, and while most of his friends were also artists, at work on things, he needed solitude and isolation to concentrate, which is why he could often be so peripatetic. He seemed to work best in temporary (even seedy) lodgings, hotels and beach cottages and YMCAs. So it was a gamble. McCullers was, in her way, weirder than Williams was. A neurotic as well. Years later, Williams wrote a piece on his friendship with Carson McCullers for the Saturday Review of Literature where he described that Nantucket summer. Two writers busy at work. Together. Williams wrote:
[We] worked at opposite ends of a table, she on a dramatization of “The Member of the Wedding” and I on “Summer and Smoke”, and for the first time I found it completely comfortable to work in the same room with another writer. We read each other our day’s work over our after-dinner drinks, and she gave me the heart to continue a play that I feared was hopeless.
When I told her that I thought my creative powers were exhausted, she said to me, wisely and truly, an artist always feels that dread, that terror, when he was completed a work to which his heart has been so totally committed that the finishing of it seems to have finished him too, that what he lives for is gone like yesteryear’s snow.