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Correspondence between Charles Williams and Phyllis Jones


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Letters from Charles Williams to Phyllis Jones and from Phyllis Jones to Charles Williams, with poems and lecture notes sent by Williams to Jones.


  • Creation: 1926-1936 and 1983


0.75 Linear metres (5 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 22198/1, folio 1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 22198/1-5

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 22198, 22199, 22200


Correspondence between Charles Williams and Phyllis Jones, with poems and lecture notes by Charles Williams.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Walter Stansby Williams (1886-1945) attended St Albans School followed by the University of London in 1901, but a lack of funding limited his studies to two years. Subsequently, he found work in the Methodist Book Room. In 1908, he gained a post as a reader at the London office of Oxford University Press in Amen House, where he would later write play scripts for his colleagues.

Inspired by Dante, and with an interest in the church, Williams wrote several spiritually-themed novels, and Arthurian poetry based on the idea of romantic love as a way to God; a love he experienced in his marriage to Florence Sarah (Michal) Conway. They had one son, Michael Stansby Williams, in 1922.

Charles Williams gained the friendship of C.S. Lewis in 1936 after exchanging letters of mutual respect for each other's writings. Consequently, when Williams moved to Oxford with the University Press upon the outbreak of the Second World War, he was invited to join the 'Inklings', a literary discussion group including Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

While in Oxford, Williams took up tutoring and lectured for the English Faculty, earning him an honourary MA in 1943. Williams remained in Oxford until his death in 1945. His prolific writing career also included religious services, theology, literary criticism, biography, and theatre.

Phyllis Jones (1901-2001) met Charles Williams at Oxford University Press where she began work as the librarian in 1924. Their intense relationship is recorded in their letters in which Charles is 'Urban' and Phyllis 'Celia' or 'Phyllida'. She inspired Williams' 'Century of Poems for Celia' (Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, MS. 16125/3) written in 1926-1927. In 1934 Phyllis married William Somervaille and lived in Java until 1938 when the marriage broke down. In 1939 she married Archibald McDougall.


The majority of the letters are undated. They were roughly sorted by Alice Mary Hadfield (Charles Williams' biographer) and that order has been retained, having been was cited in Grevel Lindop's biography.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The letters were donated to the Bodleian by Phyllis McDougall in 1978 and the poems (MS. 22198/5) in 1983, through the good offices of Alice Mary Hadfield.

Related Materials

Bodleian Library

MS. Eng. c. 2719/1-2 - literary papers and lectures, 1938-1945 MS. Eng. c. 3858 - correspondence with R.B. Montgomery, 1942-1944. MS. Eng. c. 6825 fols. 48-49 - first letter from Charles Williams to C.S. Lewis, 1936. MS. Eng. lett. d. 452 - letters and poems to Ann Renwick, 1939-1944. MS. Eng. lett. e. 136 - letters to Thelma and Bertram Shuttleworth, 1929-1945. MS. 16123/1-8 - literary papers of Charles Williams, c.1908-1957. MS. 16124/1-2 - letters and papers of Charles Williams, 1936-1951. MS. 16125/1-6 - manuscripts and papers of Charles Williams, 1920-1960.

Wheaton College: Marion E. Wade Centre

CW/MS 1-508 - Charles Williams manuscripts, 1902-1945.

Oxford University Press

Letters from A.E. Housman to Charles Williams.

BBC Written Archives Centre, Reading

Radio contributors. Scriptwriters, file 1 - correspondence between Charles Williams and the BBC, 1937-1942.


Lois Glenn, Charles W.S. Williams: A Checklist (Kent, 1975).
Alice Mary Hadfield, Charles Williams: an Exploration of his Life and Work (Oxford, 1983).
Grevel Lindop, Charles Williams: the Third Inkling (Oxford, 2015).
Catalogue of the Correspondence between Charles Williams and Phyllis Jones
Lucy McCann
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom