Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Charles Williams and the Inklings

Charles Williams and the Inklings  

Christina Weigand

Now that the holidays are past it’s time to return to the Author series. I know I have been promising to get to Tolkien, but alas not yet. Today I am going to take a look at another Inkling. But first for those who don’t recognize that term I’ll tell you a little about them, then it is on to Charles Williams.

The Inklings were a group of writers that included the likes of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. They met at The Eagle and Child pub weekly and would share readings from what they were currently working on. Different forms of this group still meet today in the U.K. and U.S.

Charles Williams was born in London in 1886 to Walter and Mary Williams. He had one sister, Edith born in 1889. In 1894 the family moved to St. Albans in Hertfordshire where Charles attended St. Albans School. He received a scholarship to University College London, but left the school without getting his degree.

He went to work at Oxford University Press as a proofreading assistant and eventually rose to the position of editor. He Williams married Florence Conway in 1917 and their son Michael was born in 1922. He died in 1945 in Oxford, England.

During his lifetime he wrote novels, poetry, plays and literary criticisms. Some of his notable works:
War in Heaven

The Place of the Lion

The Greater Trumps

Descent into Hell.

His works like Tolkien and Lewis was largely fantasy, but unlike them his was contemporary fantasy. T.S. Eliot described his work as “supernatural thrillers” because they explored the sacramental intersection of the physical with the spiritual while also examining the ways in which power can corrupt.

Williams became close friends with Lewis after reading one of Lewis’s books and sending him a letter of congratulations. At the same time Lewis had read one of Williams’s books and sent a similar note of congratulations. The letters crossed in the mail and led to an enduring friendship.

Love letters to Florence during WWII were eventually published. During this time he also joined Lewis and Tolkien in the Inklings where he was able to read and improve his final published novel; All Hallows’ Eve. He gave lectures on other authors at Oxford and received an honorary M.A. degree.

He is buried in Holywell Cemetery in Oxford and his headstone says “Poet” followed by the words: “Under the Mercy” a phrase often used by Williams.

As of yet I have not read any of Charles Williams’ books, but now they are definitely on my t.b.r list.

To see more of the Author series posts go here:

To see posts from the other authors in the Small Gang of Authors go here: