I had not meant to contact you about this matter, but since only Donna Pierce, the university's lawyer, has responded to me (but not in my opinion definitively), I felt the administration has not taken my questions seriously enough. Perhaps I am in error, and I hope so, but the letter Ms. Pierce sent me in answer to my letter to the administrators, has been rebutted point-by-point by Williams scholars, using Ms. Pierce's own words as published in the press over the years. Perhaps she was tired when she wrote me. I've done as much myself at times, but my questions are important, and my list of interested parties (which has grown to over 200 now), is eager to know some answers. I felt y'all, as Trustees, should be made aware of the questions before the story breaks in the press.
I'll send, pasted in, what I wrote them. If you want originals, I'm sure Ms. Pierce could provide them to you, as well as the letter she sent me. Since she was concerned that I might leave myself open to a legal charge of defamation and she has not sent me a legal definition of that as I requested, I'll redact the things I suspect she found possibly defamatory, and perhaps she could fill them in for you if she feels you have a right to know. The University's counsel and agents fiercely guard copyrights, so since I do not have Ms. Pierce's permission, you'd need to ask her for a copy of the letter she wrote me as well.
Please understand that I am only a friend and former employee of Tennessee Williams, and want only to get answers to some questions. I do NOT want Sewanee to be relieved of the Williams estate. Tennessee gave it to the university with good reason, and his will should be respected. But his codicil was, if not overturned, at least not respected, and he was quite precise in his instructions as to how the proceeds should be spent. If, as Ms. Pierce alleges, The University of the South has complied with all Tennessee's wishes both legally and ethically (as would be expected of an Episcopalian institution), then surely all legal and informal documents showing signatures and such should be made public and this matter could be laid to rest once and for all.
Some have told me that an independent accountant should audit the books of your agents (not the school's employees, like Ms. Pierce), but I have no opinion on that matter. Just "a word to the wise," as I've been asked to mention to you, and really, it's just a standard business practice.
You see, it is not just Tennessee who has supported your very fine school, but the Kenan family foundations as well. And although I am only distantly related to those who hold the purse-strings, I do have Thomas S. Kenan III's ear. We have spoken on the phone before and I expect will do so again. He is a man of the highest calibre and I'm proud to know of the Kenan Foundations' support of your school.
I salute you for all your good work, both spiritual and temporal!
Scott D. Kenan
From: Scott Kenan
Subject: Stewardship of the Tennessee Williams estate
Date: December 22, 2009 2:13:13 AM EST
To: Donna Pierce
Cc: (Sewanee's top administration officials)
Bcc: (The List)
I haven't heard back from you if you felt I had dealt with the Tennessee Williams/Sewanee matter on my blog properly. I did remove the posting as you respectfully requested I remove. You were right. In my concern about what has happened to and with the estate of my former employer and friend, I had become overcome by emotion and a bit out of line there. After I read your letter to me, I feel any questions about legal or ethical issues I might have about how the will and codicil were dealt with have not to do with Sewanee, you, or any other of the University's employees.
Also, I should clarify that I do not bring a single one of these issues up in my book. Not one. I never did. There is/was nothing to cause concern or offense to Sewanee in the book, and, in fact, my publisher was a bit mystified by your letter. I explained to him that it had to do with things I will be bringing up in the press if my curiosity is not satisfied soon. All I mentioned is completely beyond the scope of my book, which you will see when you buy a copy. You can pre-order a copy of it here now:http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Glass-Tennessee-Williams-Publications/dp/1593501714/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261450734&sr=8-1 .
Having found a number of published articles quoting you over the years on your/Sewanee's handling of the rights, position on how to interpret Tennessee's explicit instructions on how the proceeds of the estate should be used, his demand that no word in his plays should be changed in performance, etc., I'm rather appalled by what has been allowed over the years—things that have been well documented. This is probably not a legal matter, but a matter of opinion. I expect I'll be making my own opinion about them quite well known to the press. Indeed, I already have. Of course, unless there is some unusual development, nothing will be coming forth publicly about any of this before publication.
I am currently making my way back to Georgia after a week in New York City, where, among other things, I met several national and cable TV show hosts. Walking on Glass has generated quite a bit of interest. Three friends told me NPR discussed its upcoming publication a week or so ago. Anyway, Delta canceled my flight, can't get me on another, and I am taking a leisurely road trip home now. Not long after I sent the first of my letters to the Sewanee Administration, I began getting phone calls for a Theresa Kenan who supposedly lived at my address, had my phone number, and when i asked, was told her email address is Theresa@London.com . Someone had apparently given this fictitious person's contact info to a company that distributes such info to other companies that call one to enroll in various at-home business activities. Of course this was probably pure coincidence, however, the day before I left for NYC, samples of products that "Theresa" had ordered began arriving via US Mail. I contacted a few of the companies that had called me (caller I.D. records), explained the entire situation as I in good faith understood it, and they are cooperating in putting a stop to this. As a precaution, I have saved the samples as evidence.
While I was in New York, an artist friend of mine put me in touch with his lawyer, who after hearing my story, said he has knowledge of similar kinds of things happening more frequently than most would imagine, and that if I felt the need for legal counsel, he would be more than happy to hear from me. I sure hope my lawn is not littered with samples when I finally get home!
Again, to be clear, I DO NOT accuse you or Sewanee of such silliness. I did mention others (not on Sewanee's payroll, although possibly involved in the management of Williams estate/rights), in the first of my letters, and they might have gotten wind of my concerns. I DO NOT accuse them of silliness either. You mentioned in your letter that I should beware leaving myself open to a defamation lawsuit. While I do have a layman's understanding of the definition of the word, I am completely unfamiliar with its legal definition. Perhaps I should google it—or you could send me a link so that we know we are on the same page.
I remain transparent in my interests, and so, distribute widely what I write. My only interest is that Tennessee's will and codicil be respected. He respected his grandfather and The University of the South enough to entrust your Episcopalian institution with their stewardship. You mention that the university must sock-away enough to continue to provide support to writers. Just how many writers is that? Don't you have another 25 years of continued income before rights begin to expire? Have you set a goal for the massiveness of wealth you hope to accumulate through the continued sale of rights, compounding of interest and dividends, but niggardly distribution (at least of the type TW specified)? The estate has grown from $10 million to approximately $150 million now—how much more do you need? Money is God in Action, not God tied up in the bank. Does anyone at Sewanee understand the work of Tennessee Williams or care about his deep spiritual values that led him to honor his grandfather—a man who proudly represented the love of God and poetry instilled in him during his days at The University of the South?
I dare say that there will some day be a reckoning. Not all things are illegal. I accuse no one and no institution of illegal doings. Too many people have contacted me concerned about these matters, so I am confident that even if I now said nothing further, this search for the truth will continue.
Please forgive me. I am diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and lately, I've had some inconsistencies in medication. I hope I do not offend, but sometimes I just have to speak my mind. I hope I have not put myself at risk of prosecution by The University of the South, as your letter seemed to suggest.
Best regards to you and Sewanee at Christmas. May the Spirit of Christ infuse you and the University of the South. And may I and the soul of Tennessee Williams come to understand exactly what happened and why Sewanee and her representatives make the decisions that you all do. I have an appointment to see my psychiatrist right after the first of the year to see if I need a medication adjustment.
Thank you for listening. No reply is necessary.
Scott D. Kenan
From: Scott Kenan
Subject: Regarding the will of Tennessee Williams
Date: December 4, 2009 9:49:16 AM EST
To: Dr. Joel Cunningham
Cc: (The top Sewanee administrators)
Dear Dr. Cunningham,
I hope I am writing to the right person; I assume you are the equivalent of the COO of the University of the South. I thought it would be best to contact the administration rather than the trustees. Forgive me if I am injudicious in copying several. Perhaps you will understand why as you read further.
I worked for Tennessee Williams near the end of his life, and I have written a book which will be released this coming April, hardcover, Walking on Glass: A Memoir of the Later Days of Tennessee Williams. You can read a bit about it here: www.walkingonglass.net . In it, I include much, but not all, of the mostly circumstantial evidence I am first-hand witness to, and, additionally, much of my discovery from research. I came across nothing that contradicts the long-rumored contention that agents of the University of the South (REDACTED) persons close to Mr. Williams to testify that he was incompetent when he signed the codicil to his will which would have given Harvard control over decisions concerning his intellectual property rights as well as the proceeds from his assets. Of course Tennessee never deviated from his intention that Sewanee, the alma mater of his beloved maternal grandfather Walter E. Dakin, have actual ownership of his assets.
I hope you can understand that in the last few years of Tennessee's life, Reaganism had come to full flower. Christian leaders were calling AIDS God's righteous punishment of gays. They publicly thanked God for that! Few politicians, clergy, or Christian institutions denounced them. Perhaps TUOTS did. I don't know and I don't think Tennessee knew of your university taking a courageous stand. Tennessee was adamant that gay people needed to take practical steps to protect themselves from these demagogues and Christian institutions who at least gave their tacit consent by their silence. I couldn't testify to Tennessee's motivation, but I believe this had much to do with his change of heart over which type institution should control his intellectual rights, especially.
During the time I worked for Tennessee, we were often on the verge of visiting his friend, Maria St. Just. Tennessee knew that Maria could help him in some areas of his life, but he cancelled plans each time, declaring she was so greedy she'd try to have him declared legally incompetent and take over his business interests as well. As Tennessee often lamented, she had done exactly that to the Lord St. Just almost immediately after they married. Tennessee did finally visit her after I left his employ, but she did not do this to him then. She waited until after his death.
Tennessee made clear in his will how his estate should be governed, but in a very different scheme, Maria somehow became the de facto manager on behalf the trust for Rose Williams, but, effectively, your university. I don't (REDACTED) that Tennessee was incompetent, but when the dust cleared, Maria had gained the power she'd always coveted. Maria arranged for TW's maid, Leoncia McGee, to get a lifetime stipend. It is not clear if the money came from the estate or privately from Maria. Certain destitute close associates of Tennessee suddenly became high-livers. One of several of TW's associates whom I continued to know after Tennessee's death (this one thought to have been among these witnesses), claimed to several that he was thereafter supported in luxury by a high-placed Tennessee (state legislature) politician, without trade for sex. Clerics and academicians don't typically study how to hide the routes of money, but lawyers do.
(REDACTED) is said to have engineered all of this. I don't know (REDACTED), nor do I care to. In my conversations with various "Williams people," not one has had a nice thing to say about (REDACTED). He has a reputation for (REDACTED). All my information has been distributed widely and I am transparent, so the tactics some claim (REDACTED) has used against them and others do not frighten me. No person seeking rights or access to archives dares say a word against (REDACTED). They'd be (REDACTED). I, however, have needed no permissions. My book is based solely on my contemporaneous written and recorded notes, saved memorabilia, and memory. Trust me, all my materials have been placed in a safe place. We're talking serious money here, well over $100 million now. I do wonder how much of the proceeds have gone to support writing of a "progressive, original and preferentially of an experimental nature,” as Tennessee clearly stipulated in his will. To my knowledge, he did not mention anything about building a building.
My actual intention had been to reveal these things at the time my book is released, but yesterday, I saw that Bishop Alexander, your Chancellor, voted in favor of Gene Robinson when he was up for bishop. Of course, this is a ridiculous reason to for me to change my thoughts or actions, but hey! I'm human, and Bishop Robinson and I are members of the same "tribe." It seems only fair to me, now, that you should have the opportunity to look into this as an internal matter before all this and additional information is revealed when my book is released.
This is a very serious matter, and I do not expect an immediate response, but it would be nice to hear within a couple of weeks if you have initiated an internal inquiry. Perhaps, like so many others, your institution became temporarily possessed by the same unbridled greed (and meanness) that swept the nation during the Reagan Revolution. I hope I am wrong here; I would be delighted to hear that. Tennessee was my friend, and I intend to take this matter as far as possible, at least until all documents concerning it are released publicly, especially those with signatures. Sewanee was beloved to Tennessee and I bear no ill will toward your university, however, I am not certain that your legal counsel has served you in the spirit of the Episcopal Church or its School of Theology.
And I do commend you for your excellence in education. Since the founding of the University of North Carolina, the Kenan family has supported education, particularly in the Southeast. I am proud to know that the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust supports Sewanee!
All the best to you in your important work, both spiritual and temporal.
Scott D. Kenan