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Letters and papers of Charles Williams


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The correspondence of Charles Williams (1886-1945) with Phyllis M. Potter, and other literary papers by and about Charles Williams, mainly relating to plays, but also including lectures, reviews, one poem and one service.


  • Creation: 1936-1951


0.3 Linear metres (2 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. 16124/1].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MS. 16124/1-2

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 16124


Correspondence of Charles Williams, author (1886-1945), with Phyllis M. Potter, and other literary papers.

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 Oxford University Press in Amen House, where he would later write play scripts for his colleagues.

Inspired by Dante, and 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.


Original order not clear. A letter from Phyllis M. Potter to Linden Huddlestone, 1951, suggests that many of the literary papers were originally lent by Potter to Huddlestone. MS. 16124/1 contains correspondence from Charles Williams to Phyllis M. Potter, arranged chronologically. MS. 16124/2 contains other literary papers of or relating to Charles Williams, including play manuscripts, printed material, reviews, and typescript lectures and services.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Miss Phyllis M. Potter, 1957.

Related Materials

Bodleian Library

  1. MS. Eng. c. 3858 - correspondence with R.B. Montgomery, 1942-1944.
  2. MS. Eng. lett. d. 452 - letters and poems to Ann Renwick, 1939-1944.
  3. MS. Eng. lett. e. 136 - letters to Thelma and Bertram Shuttleworth, 1929-1945.

Wheaton College, Marion E. Wade Centre

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

Oxford University Press

  1. Letters from A.E. Housman to Charles Williams.

BBC Written Archives Centre, Reading.

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


  • Alice Mary Hadfield, Charles Williams: An Exploration of His Life and Work (Oxford, 1983).
  • Lois Glenn, Charles W.S. Williams: A Checklist (Kent, 1975).
  • Grevel Lindop, Charles Williams: The Third Inkling (Oxford, 2015).
Catalogue of letters and papers of Charles Williams
Finding aid prepared by Tilly Guthrie. Original box list prepared by Judith Priestman.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom