The Charles Williams Society


The Charles Williams Society exists to promote the study and appreciation of the life and writings of Charles Walter Stansby Williams, a poet, novelist, and lay theologian.

Charles Williams is probably best known, to those who have heard of him, as a leading member (albeit for a short time) of the Oxford literary group, the "Inklings", whose chief figures were C. S.Lewis and J. R. R Tolkien. He was, however, a figure of enormous interest in his own right: a prolific author of plays, fantasy novels (strikingly different in kind from those of his friends), poetry, theology, biography and criticism.

The Society met twice a year, and published The Charles Williams Quarterly, which normally included the papers delivered at the meetings. It also occasionally had short residential conferences, the most recent having taken place on July 4th-6th, 2008. It maintains a lending and reference library.

A Rumour of Adventure: an Inklings Story

Inklings fans! Author Kees Paling has written a light-hearted novella imagining four of the Inklings – Lewis, Tolkien, Williams, and Barfield – all going for a walking tour. They stroll through the countryside, discuss their literary obsessions, and have minor adventures. Various elements from the authors work appears as easter eggs or plot devices; it’s interesting to spot them all.

A Rumour of Adventure: an Inklings Story

It’s a light read and a flight of fancy; many of us have wished we could be a fly on the wall during an Inklings meeting at the Bird and Baby, and this fanfiction scratches that itch. And take that ‘fanfic’ for what it’s worth: the authorial touch here is definitely rooted in fandom and not the academy, and I think that’s a real asset. It doesn’t belabor with biography, it takes the canon of the Inklings work and lightly expands outward.

It’s out now on amazon – you can find it here.

If you like this, the twitter thread #InkWalk attacks a similar target as well.

Many Dimensions

Now available and added to The Charles Williams Library: Many Dimensions.

Many Dimensions is one of the most enjoyable of Williams’ novels. It’s got magic, drama, time travel, commerce, a romp through an English village, and of course, Serious People discussing the Concept of Justice.

The plot moves quickly: nasty rich collector Giles Tumulty has somehow acquired the Stone of Suleimon and brought it to London, where he discovers that it allows one to travel through space and time. His brother-in-law Lord Chief Justice Arglay and Arglay’s secretary Chloe Burnett get involved, and then so does everybody else, and that’s just in the first few chapters.

The Williams Library editions are hardbound, with cloth covers and foil stamping on the covers. Inside, you’ll find modern typography in the best bookmaking tradition. Printed in pure black with bright spot colors. They’re sized right in the sweet spot: easy in the hand but a respectable presence on the bookshelf.

AND! All proceeds from sales go directly to printing costs for the next books in the series – and so on, until we’ve republished all seven novels.

This one, like the others, is available at The Charles Williams Library.

Descent Into Hell – now available!

Now available and added to The Charles Williams Library: Descent Into Hell.

Descent Into Hell is probably the best novel by Williams – it’s the fullest statement of his ideas about substitution and exchange in the Christian life, and also brings together more than a few of his obsessions. Plus, it’s a spooky page-turner!

In this one, there’s an amateur play being produced in a newly-built suburb. One of the actresses is haunted by her doppelgänger, a military historian is seduced by a succubus of his own creation, a nice old lady just might be an ageless witch, and a construction worker who committed suicide when the suburb was being built is haunting the neighborhood. There’s also… TIME TRAVEL. In the meantime, the play must go on.

This one, like the others, is available at The Charles Williams Library.

War in Heaven

War in Heaven was just added to the Charles Williams Library, a project publishing collectors editions of Williams novels.  It’s available now at

An Introduction to John Milton

IN January 1940, Charles Williams gave a lecture in Oxford on John Milton. C.S. Lewis wrote about it enthusiastically, saying it was “nominally on Comus but really on Chastity. Simply as criticism it was superb because here was a man who really started from the same point of view as Milton and really cared with every fibre of his being about the sage and serious doctrine of virginity which would never occur to the ordinary modern critic to take seriously,” and added, “I have at last, if only for once, seen a university doing what it was founded to do: teaching wisdom.”

Here below is the text of that introduction.

The Charles Williams Society

Closure of the Charles Williams Society
A Statement by the Chairman of the Council

At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Charles Williams Society held in Oxford in June last year, members of the society passed a resolution giving formal assent to the winding up of the society. It was, inevitably, a sad occasion. The society had been in existence for fifty years and had achieved much in the way of publications, conferences, a Newsletter and Quarterly and a substantial collection of reference material. But, as its members had increasingly become aware, it could not continue in its present form. Consequently, on 25th of February 2017, I, as Chairman of the Council, and the President of the Oxford University C S Lewis Society signed the form which legally transferred the assets of the Charles Williams Society to the Oxford University C S Lewis Society: a sum of £18000.00 and the contents of the reference library.

It was deemed appropriate that the Oxford University C S Lewis Society should receive these assets – for a variety of reasons. First because the society was the origin of the Journal of Inklings Studies which will be receiving the bulk of the monetary transfer, a publication whose editor has assured me will actively promote the cause of Charles Williams.

Secondly because both C S Lewis and Oxford played such a major part in the life of Charles Williams. C S Lewis’s friendship with Williams and his admiration for his work were boundless. No- one made greater effort to bring that work to the notice of the public than Lewis and no-one wrote more profoundly and movingly about the loss of a friend when that friend died in 1945. ‘No event has so corroborated my faith in the next world as Williams did simply by dying. When the idea of death and the idea of Williams thus met, in my mind, it was the idea of death that was changed.’

The Society, we may say, continues its life in this website so ably administered by Matt Kirkland. Everyone owes a huge debt to him for his achievement. And the reference library continues to be housed in the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford. It is available, not only to scholars, but to anyone who is interested in the life and work of Williams. The new owners of the Centre, Middlebury College, under leadership of Professor Paul Monod, are extremely welcoming and helpful. We owe them, too, a large debt of gratitude.

I have been privileged to work alongside splendid friends on the council of the Charles Williams Society: scholarly, witty, perceptive and supportive. To them my heartfelt thanks. And to the many hundreds of people I have met in the course of fifty years of my association with the society I give my thanks for the enrichment of my life in so many ways.

Brian Horne

The Celian Moment and other essays.

The Greystones Press (directed by the Society’s own Stephen Barber) will be bringing out a new volume of Charles Williams essays on 6 April, called The Celian Moment and other essays.

These essays have been gathered from books, pamphlets and periodicals all long out of print and none of them has previously been collected. They cover nearly all his literary interests and the final one shows his sympathy for left-wing political ideas arising from his own poverty-ridden childhood. The title essay develops Williams’s theory of poetry but is also a covert homage to the woman who was his second and unacknowledged love.

‘As interest in Charles Williams as critic and poet continues to grow, the publication of these essays is a landmark. They will contribute very significantly to the current positive reassessment of so much of his writing on literary questions, and should be enthusiastically welcomed.’

– Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and President of the Charles Williams Society.

The essays have been edited and annotated by Stephen Barber, who has written numerous articles on Williams and was Treasurer of the Charles Williams Society for fifteen years.

Greystones is in discussion about publication in the USA, but in the meantime, US readers can order the book from the UK branch of Amazon.


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An Undocumented CW poem

Justin Tackett was published in Notes & Queries, where he discusses a (new?) undocumented poem of Williams’BALLADE OF THE PERIODICAL  [June, 1929]

You can download the PDF thru above, or download it directly here.

New! The Place of the Lion collector’s edition

The Place of the Lion

For too long, Williams’s work has been out of print or only available in budget-level paperbacks. We’re rectifying this with high-quality, hardbound editions of his work, something suitable for collections and gifts.

Finally: modern, hardback editions of Williams’ most compelling, accessible writing – in handsome editions that are worth collecting and sharing. They’re available now for order:

They have been designed and printed with care: The Williams Library editions are hardbound, with cloth covers and foil stamping and debossing on the covers. Inside, you’ll find modern typography in the best bookmaking tradition. Printed in pure black with bright spot colors, on pure white paper. They’re sized right in the sweet spot: easy in the hand but a respectable presence on the bookshelf. We’ve included generous margins for a comfortable reading experience, and room for exclamations, scribbles and arguments.

I’m really pleased with these: they are the printings of Williams that I always wanted to exist, that I wanted to give to others. And now they’re real!

The first one, The Place of the Lion is available now, and War in Heaven is available to pre-order.

The Place of the Lion