Charles Williams was the son of Walter Williams, a foreign correspondence clerk who also wrote poetry under the name Stansby. Charles was educated at St. Albans School and had two years at the University of London before he was forced to end his formal studies to earn his living. During years in a publishing job he continued his studies, however, and without acquiring any formal degrees he became a profound literary scholar, historian, theologian, poet, and novelist. Throughout his career as an editor with Oxford University Press he taught, lectured, and wrote prolifically. In 1917 he married Florence Conway, and they had one son. He lived all his life in London, except for a few years during World War II when his publishing firm was evacuated to Oxford. There he joined the Inklings, a literary group that included C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. After his death in 1945 the tributes of these and other literary friends such as W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, and Dorothy Sayers brought him wider recognition than he had had during his lifetime.
Williams’s literary career developed gradually, with four volumes of poems published between 1912 and 1924. His first play, A Myth of Shakespeare, was published in 1928. During the next decade he published eighteen books covering the entire range of his varied but closely related interests. In his three critical works he explored the religious basis of the creative imagination: Poetry at Present, The English Poetic Mind, and Reason and Beauty in the Poetic Mind. His historical studies were concerned with the relationship between the individual and the pattern of history: Bacon, James I, and Rochester. The depth of his thought as an original but profoundly orthodox Anglican was revealed in two religious books, The Rite of...
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