Charles Williams

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For other uses, see Charles Williams (disambiguation).

Charles Walter Stansby Williams (September 20, 1886May 15, 1945), educated at St Albans School, Hertfordshire and University College, London, he was a staff editor at the Oxford University Press, at the London offices from 1908 until 1939 and afterwards, due to World War II evacuations, at Oxford. In that capacity, he is best known for publishing the first major English-language edition of the works of Søren Kierkegaard.

Williams is better remembered as a writer, of poetry, novels, drama, criticism, and biographies. His best known works are his extremely dense and complex Arthurian poetry (in two books, Taliessin through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars), and his seven novels of Christian mysticism, in which intense spiritual matters infuse their way into the modern world. Yet they are not horror, but fantasy or supernatural fiction. Modern writers of fantasy with contemporary settings, notably Tim Powers, cite Williams as a model and inspiration.

Williams gathered many followers and disciples during his lifetime. He was for a period a member of the Salvator Mundi Temple of the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, an offshoot of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He met fellow Anglican Evelyn Underhill (who was also affiliated with the Golden Dawn) in 1937 and was later to write the introduction to her published Letters in 1943.

Some time after 1938 with the completion of Williams' novel The Place of the Lion, he was sending a letter of congratulation to C. S. Lewis on the latter's Allegory of Love. By coincidence, Lewis was also sending Williams' a letter congratulating him on The Place of the Lion and the letters crossed in the post. As a result, the two became good friends and the event was followed by his membership in The Inklings, a literary discussion group of which J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were also a part that met weekly at The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford (better known by its nickname "The Bird and Baby").

Williams's novels are:

  • War in Heaven (1930)
  • Many Dimensions (1931)
  • The Place of the Lion (1931)
  • The Greater Trumps (1932)
  • Shadows of Ecstasy (1933)
  • Descent into Hell (1937)
  • All Hallows Eve (1945)

He also wrote several non-fiction works of theology:

  • The Descent of the Dove
  • The Forgiveness of Sins
  • He Came Down From Heaven


  • The Silver Stair (1912) poems
  • Poems of Conformity (1917)
  • Divorce (1920)
  • Windows of Night (1924)
  • The Masque of the Manuscript (1927)
  • A Myth of Shakespeare (1928)
  • A Masque of Perusal (1929)
  • A Book of Victorian Narrative Verse (1929)
  • War in Heaven (1930) novel
  • Poetry At Present (1930)
  • The Place of the Lion (1931) novel
  • Three Plays (1931)
  • Many Dimensions (1931) novel
  • The English Poetic Mind (1932)
  • The Greater Trumps (1932)
  • A Short Life of Shakespeare: with the Sources (1933) abridgment of Chamber's 'William Shakespeare: A study of Facts & Problems.'
  • Shadows Of Ecstasy (1933) novel
  • James I (1934)
  • Rochester (1935)
  • The New Book of English Verse (1935) editor, with Lord David Cecil, Ernest de Selincourt, E. M. W. Tillyard
  • Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury (1936) Canterbury Festival Play
  • Queen Elizabeth (1936)
  • Descent Into Hell (1937) novel
  • He Came Down From Heaven (1938)
  • Taliessin through Logres (1938) poems
  • The Descent of the Dove a short history of the Holy Spirit in the Church (1939)
  • Judgement at Chelmsford (1939) play
  • Witchcraft (1941)
  • The Forgiveness of Sins (1942)
  • Outlines of Romantic Theology: Religion and Love in Dante (c. 1942)
  • The Region of the Summer Stars (1944) poems
  • The Figure of Beatrice: A Study in Dante (1944)
  • All Hallows Eve (1945) novel
  • The House of the Octopus (1945) play
  • Flecker of Dean Close (1946) biography of William Herman Flecker, 1859-1941
  • Arthurian Torso Containing the Posthumous Fragment of The Figure of Arthur (1948) with C. S. Lewis
  • Seed of Adam and other plays (1948)
  • Fires of Youth (1960)?
  • The Image of the City and Other Essays (1958) edited by Anne Ridler
  • Collected Plays (1963)
  • Charles Williams (Arthurian Poets) (1991) edited by David Llewellyn Dodds
  • Charles Williams: Essential Writings in Spirituality and Theology (1993) edited by Charles Hefling
  • Outlines of romantic theology ; with which is reprinted Religion & love in Dante : the theology of romantic love (1990) edited by Alice Mary Hadfield

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