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.

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 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.

 

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: http://cwlibrary.com

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

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.

New audiobook: Et in Sempiternum Pereant

Here’s a special treat – Ulf Bjorklund, a professional voice actor – has recorded Williams’ short ghost story ‘Et in Sempiternum Pereant’, and it sharing it with us! You can listen below.

Mr. Bjorklund has recorded lots of other audio as well: find his work on amazon.com and audible

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

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:

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 Bacon

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.

The Chapel of the Thorn

The Chapel of the Thorn

2014

This previously-unpublished work is available for the first time now!