The Charles Williams Society

Charles Williams Books In Print

Charles Williams was a prolific writer, and many of his books are at present out of print. As his work grows in popularity, new books are coming back into print frequently. Here’s a look at what’s available.

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.

New Books in Print!

Apocryphile have now reissued some more of Williams’s poetry ; the dramatic-form “A Myth of Shakespeare” and the cllection “Heroes and Kings“. You can find both at the links above.

Faber & Faber republishes Charles Williams

Faber and Faber are republishing Charles Williams’ novels as part of their ‘Faber Finds’ series.  You can see the books published so far at FaberFinds.com, or get them directly from Amazon:

Novels

Williams’ novels are currently published in the United States or Canada (and should be available in other countries as well). Australian readers may find the full text of his novels at Project Gutenberg Australia.

War In Heaven

1930

the first of his novels to be published (in 1930), begins as a detective story (and indeed the investigation of the original murder is going on all through the book). But there turns out to be far more involved than murder – the discovery of the Holy Grail in a country church, a Black Mass, and the complete disappearance of a London chemist’s shop; and the solution of the murder is helped on by Prester John…

Many Dimensions

1931

also involves the reappearance of a long-lost talisman, this time the Stone of Solomon, which turns out to have extraordinary powers over space and time (but using the latter has unexpected results!), as well as powers of healing. The book’s climax is a kind of judicial hearing by the Lord Chief Justice on what should be done with this thing; justice and law are prominent themes in the book – which is also both a thriller and at times a satire, as various parties try to get their hands on the Stone.

Descent Into Hell

1937

is perhaps the most difficult of Williams’s novels; through it run themes dear to Williams’s heart, like poetry and the “Doctrine of Exchange” – as well as the self-destruction of a human soul.

All Hallows Eve

1945

the last novel Williams ever wrote, opens with what must be one of the creepiest openings of any book, with a young woman wandering alone through the streets of London, and making a discovery which takes even the reader aback.

Shadows of Ecstasy

1933

the first novel to be written (though not published till 1933) deals with an invasion of Europe from Africa and a kind of superman who denies that he is Antichrist, but who looks uncommonly like him.

The Greater Trumps

1932

has the original set of Tarot cards coming into the possession of an English legal official, with devastating results, of which the threat of a universal snowstorm is only one. Williams’s use of symbolism is close to its highest here.

The Place of the Lion

1931

was instrumental in bringing about the friendship between Williams and C. S. Lewis. It starts with the escape of a lioness from captivity and her mysterious disappearance… It also embodies Williams’s teachings about the affirming and denying of images.

Verse

Williams’ poetry is moving and complex.

Divorce

1930

Poems of Conformity

1931

Windows of Night

1937

Taliessin Through Logres

1945

Collected Plays

1945

Williams’ plays can be enjoyed at more than one level. Though what they have in common is the author’s gift for poetic expression, they also demonstrate his range. Complex theology, knockabout farce, and historical tragedy are all represented here. The plays are simple enough for amateur performances but subtle enough to give scope for many interpretations.

Three Plays

1945

The Early Metaphysical Plays of Charles Williams.  This book also includes some of Williams’s ealier poems on Arthurian themes.

A Myth of Francis Bacon

1930

While this is not in print, we host the full text of A Myth of Francis Bacon online here at our website.

A Myth of Shakespeare

1931

The Silver Stair

1931

Heroes and Kings

1931

The Masques of Amen House

1931

The Masques of Amen House, published by the Mythopoeic Press, includes not only the previously published (but extremely rare) first two masques and other ‘Amen House’ poetry, but also the third masque and a selection of related poetry never before published.

Theology

Williams’ lay theology is mysterious and dense.  You might like it!

Outlines of Romantic Theology

1930

in which he sets out his ideas about the relationship of religion and romantic love.

Witchcraft

1931

less a study of witchcraft itself as of the Church’s attitude towards it over the centuries.

The Descent of the Dove

1931

A history of the church with special emphasis on the Holy Spirit.

He Came Down from Heaven / The Forgiveness of Sins

1931

Double Feature!

Essays and Others

Williams wrote many essays, reviews, and exploratory pieces. These few can be found in print.

The Image of the City (and Other Essays)

1945

When Charles Williams died in 1945 there remained to us of his work, besides his published books and those which he had in preparation for the press, a number of essays which had appeared in periodicals and elsewhere, many of which contain important statements of his ideas. A selection of these is printed here.

Poetry at Present

1931

This book is meant as an introduction to the works of certain contemporary poets, for those readers who do not know them, while not being, it is hoped, entirely without interest for those who do. Nota bene: ‘contemporary’ in this care means contemporary with Williams himself!

The Figure of Beatrice

1931

One of the most ambitious essays in the interpretation of Dante our time has seen…his interpretation of the role of Beatrice is a subtle and individual one.

Henry VII

1931

Henry VII is less spectacular than his descendants, but not less interesting or even exciting. The first of the Tudors has been less written about than any (except Edward VI). He supplanted a dynasty and subordinated an aristocracy; he collected a treasure and created a fleet. But he created also the engine of monarchy.

Queen Elizabeth

1936

The life of Elizabeth represents, in English history, the longest and most spectacular period of a change in society. That change began before her. It was the change from a society directed, at any rate in theory, by a metaphysical idea, to a society directed, both in theory and practice, by nothing but he continual pressure of events. It is a change completed in our day. Recently back in print!

James I

1931

With an Introduction by Dorothy Sayers

The English Poetic Mind

1931

Reason and Beauty in the Poetic Mind

1931

Arthurian Torso

1945

The Torso contains the Posthumous fragment of ‘The Figure of Arthur’, By Charles Williams, and a commentary on the Arthurian poems of Charles Williams by his friend C.S. Lewis.

Sadly, out of print – but available used on Amazon

The Detective Fiction Reviews of Charles Williams

1935

A collection of Williams’ reviews of detective fiction during the 1930′s.

Books on Williams

Many books on Williams can be found. Here are a few of note.

The Taliessin Poems of Charles Williams

Ed. Anne Ridler

Ever since their publication in 1938, the Taliessin poems of Charles Williams have enspired and thrilled people from all over the English-speaking world. This volume collects commentary on the poems published in the quarterly newsletter of the Charles Williams Society between the years of 1977 and 1986.

Charles Williams: Alchemy And Integration

Gavin Ashenden

Charles Williams and His Contemporaries

Suzanne Bray, ed. Richard Sturch

This international symposium, a product of this revival, is presented as a contribution to the serious study of Williams and his work.

The Novels of Charles Williams

Thomas Howard

Some brief notes on CW books

War in Heaven, Many Dimensions, and Descent into Hell are now available in one volume, A Charles Williams Reader, published in the United States by Eerdmans.

The other four novels have recently been republished by Regent Publishing of Vancouver, Canada, who have already reissued his unconventional “history of the Holy Spirit in the Church”, The Descent of the Dove and are about to reissue his Collected Plays (due out December 2005). All Hallows’ Eve includes an introduction by T. S. Eliot. They can be accessed through their website at www.regentbookstore.com.

Williams’s most important poetry, the Arthurian cycles Taliessin through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars together with the earlier cycle, The Advent of Galahad, and some later, unfinished poems, are available in the series Arthurian Poets,edited by D. L. Dodds, and published in the United Kingdom by D.S. Brewer(aka the Boydell Press) (1991). Apocryphile publish his great book on Dante, The Figure of Beatrice, originally issued by Faber and Faber in 1943. It was this book which inspired Dorothy L. Sayers to translate Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.

Apocryphile, of Berkeley, California, have just reissued five of Williams’s most important non-fiction prose works. These are The Image of the City a collection of Williams’ essays and articles;The Figure of Beatrice, already mentioned; his studies of the Incarnation and of forgiveness, He Came Down from Heaven and The Forgiveness of Sins (one volume); the early work Outlines of Romantic Theology, in which he sets out his ideas about the relationship of religion and romantic love; and Witchcraft, less a study of witchcraft itself as of the Church’s attitude towards it over the centuries. Apocryphile have also reprinted three collections of Williams’s earlier poetry, Divorce, Poems of Conformity, and Windows of Night. For details see Apocryphile’s own website.

Another American publisher, Wipf and Stock of Eugene, Oregon,, has reissued Williams’s biograhy of James I and two books of literary criticism, ‘The English Poetic Mind’ and ‘Reason and Beauty in the English Poetric Mind’.

In 1991 the Society itself published a small book of commentaries on the Arthurian poems by people who had known Williams or studied under him. It is published by Apocryphile.

Recent articles in the Society’s Newsletter include ‘The Quest for Integration’ by Dr Gavin Ashenden; ‘Charles Williams and the Arthuriad; Poetry as Sacrament’ by Dr. Glen Cavaliero; ‘Striving to Achieve Harmony’ by a Russian member, Olga Markova; and ‘Charles Williams and Magic’, by Edward Gauntlett.

Some of the most recently published Williams books are completely new. One is To Michal from Serge, wartime letters from Williams to his wife, edited by Roma A. King, Jr., and published by the Kent State University Press. Another is a collection of Williams’s reviews of detective fiction during the 1930′s, edited by Jared Lobdell, and published in the United States by McFarland and Co.

The New Christian Year, his anthology of excerpts from earloier writers – from the Fathers to Karl Barth – has recently appeared on the internet as a “blog” by courtesy of Mr. Tom Wills.

Among recent studies of Williams may be mentioned Stephen Dunning The Crisis and the Quest: A Kierkegaardian Reading of Charles Williams: Paternoster Press, 2000. (“An insightful, challenging examination of an important, often overlooked author and Christian thinker.” Charles Franklin Beach, professor of English at Nyack College, Nyack, NY). Williams was one of those chiefly responsible for introducing Kierkegaard to an English readership.