Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
A first-generation American, William Carlos Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, on September 17, 1883. His father, William George Williams, of English ancestry, had been born in England and raised in the West Indies. His mother, Raquel Hélène Rose Hoheb Williams, whose ancestry contained elements of French, Spanish, and Jewish cultures, had been born in Puerto Rico.
With his younger brother, Edward, Williams went to public schools in his hometown. When he was fourteen, he went with his family to Europe for two years, where he attended school first near Geneva, Switzerland, and later in Paris. When his family returned to the United States, he was sent to Horace Mann High School in New York City. He commuted daily from Rutherford by streetcar and Hudson River ferryboat. Williams entered medical school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1902. While there, because of his interest in poetry, he met the poets Ezra Pound and H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) and the painter Charles Demuth, all of whom became his lifelong friends.
After his graduation from medical school in 1906, Williams interned at the old French Hospital and the Nursery and Child’s Hospital in New York City. His first volume of poetry, Poems, published at his own expense, appeared in 1909. That same year he went to Europe again, where he did postgraduate...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
For most of his life Williams waged war against reductiveness—the tendency of human beings to mistake the part for the whole or the explanation for the reality. He wrote lyric poems, an epic, short stories, novels, essays, a remarkable volume of American history, and an autobiography, consciously reshaping these literary forms in the hope of engaging readers more directly and fully with experience. The cultural impact of Williams’s achievements was registered slowly, but his influence on major poets of the succeeding generation has been pivotal, and a sense of the importance of his example continues to increase.
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
After attending public schools in New Jersey, spending time in Europe, and then finishing high school in New York, William Carlos Williams enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School in 1902. While completing his M.D. there, he met Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle, and the painter Charles Demuth. In 1910, he began work as a general practitioner in Rutherford, New Jersey; in addition to this practice, from 1925 on he became a pediatrician at Passaic General Hospital. Williams held these positions until several strokes forced him to retire in 1951. His medical and literary careers always coexisted. In 1909, he had his first volume, Poems, privately published. As his reputation grew, he traveled to Europe several times and encountered such writers as James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Ford Madox Ford. He married Florence Herman in 1912, and they had two sons. Williams died on March 4, 1963, in his beloved Rutherford.
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Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
William Carlos Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, on September 17, 1883. His father (William George Williams) was an Englishman who never gave up his British citizenship, and his mother (Raquel Hélène Rose Hoheb, known as Elena) was a Puerto Rican of Basque, Dutch, Spanish, and Jewish descent. His father was an Episcopalian who turned Unitarian and his mother was Roman Catholic. Williams was educated at schools in New York City and briefly in Europe and graduated with a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1909. After an internship in New York City and graduate study in pediatrics in Leipzig, he returned to his native Rutherford, where he practiced medicine until he retired. He proposed to Florence “Floss” Herman in 1909 and they were married in 1912. Their first son, William Eric Williams, was born in 1914 and their second, Paul Herman Williams, in 1916.
Williams, a melting pot in himself, had deep roots as a second-generation citizen of the United States. From early in his life he felt that the United States was his only home and that he must possess it in order to know himself. Possessing the America of the past and the present would enable him to renew himself continually and find his own humanity. Unlike many writers of his generation who went to Europe, such as his friend Ezra Pound, Williams committed himself to living in the United States because he believed he had to live in a place to be able to grasp it...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
William Carlos Williams was a major American modernist poet to whom recognition came late in his career, and who influenced many subsequent poets in their search for a contemporary voice and form. Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, on September 17, 1883, to a mother born in Puerto Rico and an English father. Both parents figure in a number of Williams’s poems. In 1902 Williams began the study of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and while a student formed important friendships with Ezra Pound and the painter Charles Demuth. In 1910 Williams began his forty-year medical practice in Rutherford, marrying Florence Herman in 1912.
Williams’s first book of poems, entitled Poems and privately printed by a local stationer, was replete with the kind of archaic poetic diction and romantic longing typical of much American magazine poetry at the time. (In later years, Williams refused to allow the book to be reprinted.) As a result of Pound’s directive that he become more aware of avant-garde work in music, painting, prose, and poetry, Williams’s next book, The Tempers, reflected Pound’s pre-Imagist manner—a variety of verse forms, short monologues, and medieval and Latinate allusions. Williams responded with enthusiasm to the Imagist manifestos of 1912 and 1913, and much of his subsequent poetry reflects the...
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One of the best-loved, most enduring, and most American of all poets, William Carlos Williams balanced a life of aesthetic contemplation with a life of constant, hands-on involvement with the most brutal facts of life. Forever envious and resentful of the American modernist poets, like Ezra Pound, H. D., and T. S. Eliot, who fled to Europe to live bohemian lives, Williams stayed home in New Jersey and practiced family medicine among the poor and working-class citizens of his region. He stayed involved in the artistic ferment going on in the world, however, and established and maintained friendships with many of the writers, painters, and photographers who were creating the movement known as modernism. Like his contemporary, Wallace Stevens, Williams identified himself primarily with his profession and only secondarily with his vocation of poetry. Also like Stevens, this split caused him endless inner turmoil, but also provided him with material and inspiration for one of the truly great bodies of work in American literature.
Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, on September 17, 1883. His father was British by birth and never became an American citizen, while his mother’s family came from a number of Caribbean islands and her own ancestors were French, Dutch, Spanish, and Jewish. She preferred to speak Spanish or French at home, and many exotic foreigners passed through the Williams’ house because of her. Williams attended public schools in...
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Williams was born on September 17, 1883, in Rutherford, New Jersey, to William George and Raquel Helene Hoheb Williams. From 1897 to 1899, he went to school in Switzerland and Paris but graduated from New York City’s Horace Mann High School in 1902. From 1902 to 1906, he attended the school of dentistry and then the school of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. These proved to be important years for young Williams as he later would enjoy a life-long career as a medical doctor. His time at the university proved fruitful for his other career, that of a poet, as this was where he met fellow American poets Ezra Pound and H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) and fellow Pennsylvania painter Charles Demuth.
In 1909, after interning in New York City, he self-published his first collection of poems, adequately titled Poems. For the next few years, Williams lived overseas but returned to marry Florence Helman on December 12, 1912.
Through the influence of Pound, Williams began to enjoy some moderate success with his poetry. Pound persuaded a British press to publish Williams’ collection of poems The Tempers in 1913, and then in 1914, Pound included Williams’ “Postlude” in his collection of Imagist work. An influential approach to poetry advocated by Pound, Imagist poetry tried to evoke an image or picture using as few words and forms as possible. In 1917, Williams’ first major book, Al Que Quiere!, appeared to critical...
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