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Williams, Charles, 1886-1945.



  • Existence: 1886-1945

Biographical Statement

An editor at Oxford University Press and a popular lecturer on English Literature, Charles Walter Stansby Williams published nearly 40 books, including poetry, plays, novels, literary criticism, biographies, and theological works. He is best known for his spiritual novels, which powerfully portray good and evil, and for The Figure of Beatrice, a study of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Williams began his formal schooling in St. Albans near London and won a scholarship to University College, London, in 1901, but two years later left without taking a degree, unable to afford to continue his education. For several years he worked as a bookroom clerk, then in 1908 took a job with Oxford University Press as a proofreader. Williams had written poetry since adolescence and in 1912 saw his first work published, the sonnet sequence The Silver Stair. He married Florence Conway in 1917, had a son in 1922, and by 1924, due to his extensive knowledge of English literature, was working as an editor for the Press and giving regular lectures on English literature for Adult education classes in London. In the late 1920s he turned his attention to other literary forms, publishing, for example, seven novels between the years 1931 and 1945, of which Descent into Hell(1937) is perhaps the most well-known. Throughout this period, he also continued to write poetry, most notably Taliessin through Logres(1938), the first volume of his Arthurian poetry cycle. In the 1940s he found the academic recognition he had long sought when after giving a series of well-received lectures at Oxford University he was awarded an Honorary Master of Arts in 1943. The same year his scholarly study of Dante and romantic theology, The Figure of Beatrice, was published, a work which sparked Dorothy L. Sayers' interest in Dante. The following year, his novel, All Hallows' Eve, and the second volume of his Taliessin cycle, Region of the Summer Stars, were published, and he began work on The Figure of Arthur, but died on May 15, 1945 before completing it. He was 59 years old.

A member of the Church of England, Williams also knew the value of rationalism, was interested in the supernatural, and had a detailed knowledge of the occult. Yet, as demonstrated in his novels, he clearly understood that such practices were evil and selfish attempts at individual power. Central to his thinking were the theological concepts of co-inherence, the "way of affirmation," and substitution, the death and resurrection of Christ, God's perfect substitution for the sins of humankind, being the center of his life.


Found in 11 Collections and/or Records:

Anne Ridler Collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-B-1

The Anne Ridler Collection contains correspondence and other documents relating to the life and work of Anne Ridler, poetess, playwright, and editor. Materials in the collection are primarily focused on Charles Williams.

Dates: Created: 1920-2011

Author Societies Archive

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-A-14 through A-15

The materials in this archive relate to groups and societies dedicated to promoting the works and lives of the seven authors in  the Wade Center's collections.

Dates: Created: 1965-2019

Events File Archive

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-A-126, 126a, 127, and B-36

This archive includes materials from various events related to the Wade authors, including dramatic performances, conferences, academic courses, exhibitions, etc. More additions may be included in this archive at any time.

Dates: Created: 1966-2023

Grevel Lindop Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-B-17 through B-18

This collection comprises of research materials used by Grevel Lindop while writing his biography of Charles Williams titled Charles Williams: The Third Inkling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). Lindop provided an inventory of the materials, which is referenced throughout the finding aid to note original file locations.

Dates: Created: 1848-2015; Other: Date acquired: 03/14/2017

Lois Lang-Sims Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-43

This archive contains drafts of the book Letters to LaLage: The Letters of Charles Williams to Lois Lang-Sims (Kent: OH: The Kent State University Press, 1989).

Dates: Created: ca. 1987

Mary McDermott Shideler Archive

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-8
Abstract This archive contains seven unsorted folders of written notes and typescripts relating to the research, writing and publication of The Theology of Romantic Love: A Study in the Writings of Charles Williams (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962). It also contains notes and typescripts relating to the booklet Charles Williams: A Critical Essay (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966) and to an unpublished book on developing personal...
Dates: Created: 1955-1965

Mary McDermott Shideler Special Archive

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-3

This archive contains a typescript of The Theology of Romantic Love: A Study in the Writings of Charles Williams (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962), with penciled notes by C.S. Lewis. It also contains a typescript of an index to the works of Charles Williams sent to Lewis, and a photocopy of a letter by Lewis.

Dates: Created: 1958

Raymond Hunt Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-A-72 through 74

The Raymond Hunt Papers archive contains materials relating to the life and work of Charles Williams, including notebooks of Williams's transcribed lectures, Hunt's personal notes, and a small selection of published materials and correspondence.

Dates: Created: 1926-1978; Other: Majority of material found in 1932-1947

Ruth Spalding Collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-46

This archive contains materials from the Spalding family relating to Charles Williams, particularly in the areas of drama, secondary materials about Williams, and the 1961 BBC radio broadcast of “A Portrait of Charles Williams.”

Dates: Created: 1938-1997

War in Heaven Archive

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-9

This archive is a collection  of materials relating to the Wheaton College production of an original, musical adaptation of Charles Williams' War in Heaven.

Dates: Created: 1984-1985

Williams Family Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-B-2 through B-3 and B-5

The Williams Family Papers contain a variety of personal documents, vital records, publications, correspondence, and other materials relating to Charles Williams and his family.

Dates: Created: 1836-2000; Other: Majority of material found in 1920-2000

Additional filters:

Williams, Charles, -- Archives. 10
Lewis, C. S. -- Archives. 2
Shideler, Mary McDermott -- Archives. 2
Williams, Charles, -- Correspondence. 2
Williams, Charles, -- Family. 2
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Williams, Charles, -- Friends and associates. 2
Williams, Charles, -- Societies, etc. -- Archives. 2
Authors, English -- 20th century 1
Authors, English -- 20th century -- Biography. 1
Authors, English. 1
Barfield, Owen, -- Archives. 1
Barfield, Owen, -- Societies, etc. 1
Barfield, Owen, -- Societies, etc. -- Archives. 1
Chesterton, G. K. -- Archives. 1
Chesterton, G. K. -- Societies, etc. 1
Chesterton, G. K. -- Societies, etc. -- Archives. 1
Hunt, Raymond -- Correspondence. 1
Hunt, Raymond -- Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc. 1
Lang-Sims, Lois -- Correspondence. 1
Lewis, C. S. -- Influence. 1
Lewis, C. S. -- Societies, etc. 1
Lewis, C. S. -- Societies, etc. -- Archives. 1
MacDonald, George, -- Archives. 1
MacDonald, George, -- Societies, etc. 1
MacDonald, George, -- Societies, etc. -- Archives. 1
Ridler, Anne, -- Archives. 1
Ridler, Anne, -- Correspondence. 1
Sayers, Dorothy L. -- Archives. 1
Sayers, Dorothy L. -- Societies, etc. 1
Sayers, Dorothy L. -- Societies, etc. -- Archives. 1
Spalding, Ruth -- Correspondence. 1
Tolkien, J. R. R. -- Archives. 1
Tolkien, J. R. R. -- Societies, etc. 1
Tolkien, J. R. R. -- Societies, etc. -- Archives. 1
Wheaton College (Ill.). -- Archives. 1
Williams, Charles, -- Adaptations. 1
Williams, Charles, -- Drama. 1
Williams, Charles, -- Friends and associates -- Interviews. 1
Williams, Charles, -- Indexes. 1
Williams, Charles, -- Societies, etc. 1
Williams, Florence Sarah Conway -- Archives. 1
Williams, Florence Sarah Conway -- Correspondence. 1
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