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|Born||September 20, 1886|
|Died||May 15, 1945|
|Website||The Charles Williams Society|
Charles Walter Stansby Williams was a British poet, novelist, theologian, literary critic, and fellow Inkling with J.R.R. Tolkien.
Tolkien on Charles Williams[edit | edit source]
I knew Charles Williams well in his last few years: partly because of Lewis's good habit of writing to authors who pleased him (which put us both in touch with Williams); and still more because of the good fortune amid disaster that transferred Williams to Oxford during the War. But I do not think we influenced one another at all! Too 'set', and too different. We both listened (in C.S.L.'s rooms) to large and largely unintelligible fragments of one another's works read aloud; because C.S.L. (marvellous man) seemed able to enjoy us both. But I think we both found the other's mind (or rather mode of expression, and climate) as impenetrable when cast into 'literature', as we found the other's presence and conversation delightful.
—Letter 159, (dated 3 March 1955)
But in fact [I and C.S. Lewis] saw less and less of one another after he came under the dominant influence of Charles Williams [...] Williams' influence actually only appeared with his death: That Hideous Strength, the end of the trilogy, which (good though it is in itself) I think spoiled it.
—Letter 257, (dated 16 July 1964)
I knew Charles Williams only as a friend of C.S.L. whom I met in his company when, owing to the War, he spent much of his time in Oxford. We liked one another and enjoyed talking (mostly in jest) but we had nothing to say to one another at deeper (or higher) levels. I doubt if he had read anything of mine then available; I had read or heard a good deal of his work, but found it wholly alien, and sometimes very distasteful, occasionally ridiculous. (This is perfectly true as a general statement, but is not intended as a criticism of Williams; rather it is an exhibition of my own limits of sympathy. And of course in so large a range of work I found lines, passages, scenes, and thoughts that I found striking.) I remained entirely unmoved.
—Letter 276, (dated 12 September 1965)
Charles Williams' connection with the Inklings was in fact an astronomical accident that had no effect on his work, and probably no effect on any of the other members except Lewis. Certainly none on me.
—Letter to Roger Verhulst, (dated 9 March 1966)
I had no personal discussions with him about literature. His work gave me no pleasure [...] But I found him a pleasant companion socially.
—Letter to Mother Mary Anthony, (dated 12 April 1966)
Well, that's quite wrong. Williams had no influence on me at all; I didn't even know him very well. I'll tell you one thing on that point, one of the things I remember Lewis's saying to me — of course, Lewis was very influenced as you may know — was, "Confound you, nobody can influence you anyhow. I have tried but it's no good.
[. . .]
I've read a good many [of Williams's books], but I don't like them.
—J.R.R. Tolkien according to The Hobbit-forming World of J.R.R. Tolkien
Bibliography, selected[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
External links[edit | edit source]
- Charles Williams (British writer) at Wikipedia
- "Charles Williams And The Occult" on the blog A Mule In The Chapter House
- Notion Club Papers - An Inklings blog - Dr. Bruce Charlton's blog with several articles dedicated to Charles Williams and his relationship with Tolkien.
- The Inklings: Charles Williams - (critical) page discussing Williams's occult background, with excerpts from The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter and the Proceedings of the J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference.