The Charles Williams Society

Welcome!

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

Become a member of the Charles Williams Society. Membership subscription is £15 a year single, £20 for joint members. Outside UK £20 single, £25 joint. Concessionary rates £7.50. Fees are payable to The Charles Williams Society.

New eBooks Available!

Charles Williams’ novels are finally available in nicely-edited Kindle editions, at least for interested readers in the US, Canada, and select EU countries. You can get them from Amazon.

CW_descent CW_dimensions CW_hallows CW_lion CW_shadows CW_trumps CW_war

The Chapel of the Thorn

Society member Sørina Higgins has just published The Chapel of the Thorn by Charles Williams. This verse drama was previously unpublished, and is now available for the first time.

The Chapel of the Thorn is a two-act verse drama in which Christians and pagans contend for control of the Crown of Thorns. Its themes of spiritual tension, sacred vs. secular power, and religious war are as powerful now as they were when Williams wrote this play just over one hundred years ago. It was published for the first time by Apocryphile Press in November 2014. It is a lively, compelling drama in which hints of Williams’ distinctive themes can be traced.

Some resources for interested readers:

Congratulations, Sørina!

Stephen Barber’s guest post

Just a quick note: our Treasurer Stephen Barber has a guest post over at the ‘Oddest Inkling’ blog, about the Charles Williams book Poetry at Present.  Check it out here.

Call for Peer Reviewers: The Inklings and King Arthur

The editor of the forthcoming volume The Inklings and King Arthur seeks experienced, published scholars to serve as peer reviewers on chapters in the fields of Inklings studies, Arthuriana, or 20th-century British Literature, beginning November 1st, 2014. Please send credentials to Sørina Higgins at inklings.arthur@gmail.com.

Rare copy of Heroes and Kings for sale

Bruce Bridgewood has an unsigned, unnumbered  copy of CW’s book Heroes & Kings, and is offering it for sale. He writes “It is in excellent condition and with its slipcase. It is inscribed on the inside front page. I am looking for £300 or near offer.”

Bruce can be reached at brucebridgewood@gmail.com.

A Myth of Bacon, now available to read online

We recently re-posted the PDF vesrion of ‘A Myth of Bacon’ – Charles Williams’ early unavailable verse play – as it was originally found in The Quarterly.  But as of today, we’ve also published a real-text version, which you can read online more conveniently.  If you haven’t read it yet, you’re running out of excuses:  A Myth of Francis Bacon, by Charles Williams.

A Myth of Bacon PDF

In Spring 2007, the Charles Williams Quarterly published A Myth of Bacon, which is unavailable anywhere else. We’re reposting it here, for easier access.

Due to its nature as a verse play, the formatting is rather precise. We’ve created a live-text version which you can read here, but you can also download a PDF as it was originally published in the Quarterly.

Download the PDF of A Myth of Bacon here.

The Emperor and The Zodiac

In Autumn 2004, the Charles Williams Quarterly included a previously-unpublished poem fragment. We’re reposting it here, but you can also download the issue of the Quarterly here.

The Emperor and The Zodiac
Charles Williams

In the throne of the Emperor are the twelve zodiacal images,
each the generation of creation and each its consummation,
twelvefold to the world beyond Byzantium,
the affliction of benediction, since the Adam yearned
to share the knowledge and learned what they could bear,
in that creation, of what was also salvation
in flesh and intellect and soul, the twelve mysteries
that walked also with the shining Logos in Galilee.

The lord Taliessin saw the divine Emperor
set above peace and war, he saw the City
gathering itself in the twelve images in the throne
as later in Logres, scattering itself in stars,
hints of perfection, falling flashes of beatitude,
when he heard the thunder of the Emperor riding above him.
He saw in Logres the form of a man twelve-based,
the form of a woman, the empire reflecting the zodiac.

The workings of the sublime Emperor
attributed to the themes their qualities of cause and perseverance,
as the sacred sun, with all the spiritual planets
attending, wending through the grand zodiacal houses,
sheds in its light the influence of each on the earth:
light beyond the sun as Sarras beyond Carbonek
lying, as God beyond the operative Emperor;
and the myths in Broceliande as the powers dwell in the zodiac.

The body was bared and balanced in Libra;
Justice lay at the bottom, and in Caucasia (here the fragment cuts off)

Quarterly Archive now available

We’ve posted an archive of our Quarterly, which was produced from 1976 onwards. You can download each issue as a PDF. Check out the list here!

Charles Williams’s Grave

grave

All members of the Society will know that Charles Williams is buried in Holywell Cemetery next to St Cross Church in Oxford.  The grave is, strictly speaking, the responsibility of the estate, i.e. the heirs, of Charles Williams, but for many years the Charles Williams Society has taken on this responsibility and has tried to look after the grave.  Until recently a firm of stonemasons and gardeners was employed to take care of it but, unfortunately, the firm was taken over and the contract lapsed.

Visitors to the grave during the last year or two have been distressed to find that the grave has become increasingly unkempt. The society has been aware of this and been trying to find someone who will be able to do the work that was previously done by the company we employed. Thanks to the efforts of Susannah Harris Wilson, someone has been found who will do precisely this: an excellent professional gardener who has already begun the work of restoration.

The cemetery itself is a place of great interest.  A number of well known people: writers, scholars, artists are buried there. Only a few feet away from Charles Williams can be found the graves of Kenneth Grahame, Walter Pater, and Williams’s friends, Hugo Dyson, Austin Farrer and Maurice Bowra. It is also a place of quiet beauty: a sanctuary for wildlife and local flora.  The Friends of Holywell Cemetery are anxious that it should retain its distinctive character and not become a clipped and manicured place. We are extremely fortunate to have found someone to take care of the grave who understands the singular charm and attractiveness of its surroundings.

Brian Horne