Charles Williams

Charles Walter Stansby Williams (20 September 1886 – 15 May 1945) was a British writer and member of the Inklings. His novels, which often reflected a Christian ideology, have been described as supernatural thrillers.

Although chiefly remembered as a novelist, Williams also published poetry, works of literary criticism, theology, drama, history, biography, and a voluminous number of book reviews. Some of his best known novels are War in Heaven, Descent into Hell, and All Hallows’ Eve. T. S. Eliot, who wrote an introduction for the last of these, described Williams’s novels as “supernatural thrillers” because they explore the sacramental intersection of the physical with the spiritual while also examining the ways in which power, even spiritual power, can corrupt as well as sanctify. All of Williams’ fantasies, unlike those of J. R. R. Tolkien and most of those of C. S. Lewis, are set in the contemporary world. More recent writers of fantasy novels with contemporary settings, notably Tim Powers, cite Williams as a model and inspiration. W. H. Auden, one of Williams’ greatest admirers, reportedly re-read Williams’s extraordinary and highly unconventional history of the church, Descent of the Dove, every year. Williams’s study of Dante entitled The Figure of Beatrice was very highly regarded at its time of publication and continues to be consulted by Dante scholars today. Williams, however, regarded his most important work to be his extremely dense and complex Arthurian poetry, of which two books were published, Taliessin through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars, and more remained unfinished at his death.

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