Chronological List of works by Charles Williams

What is the best way to get to know a writer? Read through his or her works in the order in which they were written, reading letters, journals, books by others, and biographies along with them to create a total picture of the person’s life, ideas, and work. I am currently doing that, as best I can; some of CW’s works are hard to get (in at least two senses). Here is another blogger who is reading through C.S. Lewis’s works chronologically. I would be happy to hear about others’ experiences in reading their way through a writer’s body of work.

Last week I posted a list of Williams’s primary works grouped by genre. Now here is the same list, with the works in chronological order, and some additions. These are mostly listed by publication date, but a few are placed in the year in which they were written, if this is known and makes a difference to reading through his ouevre “in order.” Note that I have merely grouped the works by year and have made no attempt to establish a chronology within years or to determine which works in, say 1930, were written before the others, etc. If anyone has done this, please let me know!

Before approaching this long list, you may want to read my Reader’s Guide for Beginners.

So here it is: THE LIST.

· Ministry at the end of 1902 (play), unpublished.
· The Silver Stair (poetry), 1912.
· Poems of Conformity (poetry), 1917.
· Divorce (poetry), 1920.
· Arthurian Commonplace Book (notes), 19teens and ’20s?
· Outlines of Romantic Theology (theology), 1924?
· Windows of Night (poetry), 1924.
· The Masque of the Manuscript (play), 1927.
· A Myth of Shakespeare (play), 1928.
· The Rite of the Passion (play), 1929.
· The Masque of Perusal (play), 1929.
· The Masque of the Termination of Copyright (play), 1930.
· other poetry related to Amen House, late 1920s-early 1930s.
· Shadows of Ecstasy (novel), written before the other novels, but published in 1933.
· Heroes and Kings (poetry), 1930.
· Gerard Manley Hopkins’s Poems, second edition (CW served as editor and wrote the introduction), 1930.
· The Chaste Wanton (play), 1930.
· War in Heaven (novel), 1930.
· Many Dimensions (novel), 1930.
· Poetry at Present (literary criticism), 1930.
· The Witch (play), 1931
· The Place of the Lion (novel), 1931.
· The Greater Trumps (novel), 1932.
· The English Poetic Mind (literary criticism), 1932.
· A Myth of Francis Bacon (play), 1932?
· Reason and Beauty in the Poetic Mind (literary criticism), 1933.
· Bacon (biography), 1933.
· Robert Browning’s The Ring and the Book (retold by Williams), 1934.
· James I (biography), 1934.
· Bethnal Green Pageant (play), 1935? unpublished.
· Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury (play), 1935.
· The Detective Fiction Reviews of Charles Williams 1930-1935.
· Rochester (biography), 1935.
· “Et in Sempiternum Pereant” (short story), 1935.
· Queen Elizabeth (biography), 1936.
· Seed of Adam (play), 1936.
· The Story of the Aeneid (retold by Williams), 1936.
· Descent into Hell (novel), 1937.
· Henry VII (biography), 1937.
· Stories of Great Names (biography), 1937.
· Taliessin through Logres (poetry), 1938.
· He Came Down from Heaven (theology), 1938.
· Judgement at Chelmsford (play), 1939.
· The Passion of Christ (CW served as editor for this selection of readings), 1939.
· The Death of Good Fortune (play), 1939.
· The House by the Stable (play), 1939.
· Kierkegaard’s The Present Age (CW served as editor and wrote the introduction), 1939.
· Kierkegaard’s The Passion of the Christ (CW served as editor and wrote the preface), 1939.
· The Descent of the Dove: A Short History of the Holy Spirit in the Church (theology), 1939.
· Terror of Light (play), 1940.
· Grab and Grace (play), 1941.
· The New Christian Year (CW served as editor for this selection of readings), 1941.
· Witchcraft (theology?), 1941.
· Religion and Love in Dante: The Theology of Romantic Love (theology/literary criticism pamphlet), 1941.
· The Way of Exchange (theology pamphlet), 1941
· The Three Temptations (play), 1942.
· The Forgiveness of Sins (theology), 1942.
· The Noises That Weren’t There (unfinished novel), 1940-43?
· The Letters of Evelyn Underhill (CW served as editor and wrote the introduction), 1943.
· The Figure of Beatrice (literary criticism/theology), 1943.
· The Region of the Summer Stars (poetry), 1944.
· All Hallow’s Eve (novel), 1945.
· House of the Octopus (play), 1945.
· Flecker of Dean Close (biography), 1944-45, published post. 1946.
· Letters to Lalage: The Letters of Charles Williams to Lois Lang-Sims, 1943-1945.
· To Michal from Serge: Letters from Charles Williams to His Wife Florence, 1939-1945
· The Figure of Arthur (unfinished critical work).
· The Image of the City and Other Essays (literary criticism, theology, etc), written throughout his life and published posthumously in 1958.

He also wrote many additional poems, essays, books reviews, introductions, and prefaces that remain uncollected, and completed much editorial work for OUP.

As usual, please send me comments, corrections, and additions either in the comments below or to iambic[dot]admonit[at]gmail[dot]com.

Next week I will be posting a list of the primary scholarly studies of Williams. If you know one that you think I might forget to include, please mention it to me. Also, let me know if you want to post a book review of one of these secondary studies at some point in the future as a guest writer. Cheers.

About Sørina Higgins

Sørina Higgins is a PhD student in English and Presidential Scholar at Baylor University. She also serves as Chair of the Language and Literature Department at Signum University, online. Her latest publication is an academic essay collection on "The Inklings and King Arthur" (Apocryphile Press, December 2017). Her interests include British Modernism, the Inklings, Arthuriana, theatre, and magic. She holds an M.A. from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Sørina blogs about British poet Charles Williams at The Oddest Inkling, wrote the introduction to a new edition of Williams’s "Taliessin through Logres" (Apocryphile, 2016), and edited Williams’s "The Chapel of the Thorn" (Apocryphile, 2014). As a creative writer, Sørina has published two books of poetry, "The Significance of Swans" (2007) and "Caduceus" (2012).
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12 Responses to Chronological List of works by Charles Williams

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    To recap some of the facts we know about the first novels: in December 1925, C.W. told Olive Willis (in a letter) that he had written a “sensational novel” between 8 July and the end of August of that year. Its first title, “The Black Bastard”, had been changed to “Adepts of Africa” by December.

    By 5 January 1926, his friend John Pellow notes in his diary that C.W. was writing another novel, “about the Holy Graal and Black Magic”, and had “a third in view”. Faber was then considering Outlines of Romantic Theology for publication and Pellow suggested offering them all three novels “as a trilogy” which he reports C.W. thought a “magnificent idea”.

    By the end of May 1926, both the first and the second novels (the latter at this point entitled “The Corpse”) had apparently been finished, submitted to, and rejected by, Faber. By December 1926, “Adepts” had also been submitted to, and rejected by, Knopf.

    In 1929, C.W. was almost ready to discard “The Corpse”, but was persuaded to submit it to Victor Gollancz instead. Gollancz was enthusiastic, but wanted a title suggestive of neither detection, black magic, or the Grail: the result was War in Heaven, under which it appeared in early summer 1930. Gollancz wanted another, immediately. In June 1930, C.W. wrote to a friend that he had “one novel that needs a lot of revision and another half-done.” The former is presumably “Adepts”. A.M. Hadfield quotes from C.W.’s correspondence on it with Gollancz in Charles Williams: An Exploration of His Life and Work (NY:OUP, 1983), chapter 6 (pp. 92-94, 241). I have never succeeded in trying to see this correspondence, which might give us a better idea of how the first novel as initially written differed from its published form as his fifth novel.

    The other novel, “half-done” is presumably what is eventually finished (after September 1930), and is published (by 15 January 1931) as Many Dimensions.

    If the states of his first novel (before and during revision) are still a mystery, another mystery is what relation Many Dimensions has to the “third in view” of January 1926. As published it is clearly related to War in Heaven. But it could not have reached that published form before C.W. had fallen in love with Phyllis Jones. Mrs. Hadfield says she joined the Press in March 1924 (p. 56), but C.W. seems not to have fallen in love with her until late summer 1926: in a latter “sketch of an autobiography” for Raymond Hunt, he describes their “great period” as from September 1926 to April 1927. On the other hand, C.W. refers in a letter of 30 December 1925 to his long poem, “Lilith”, later published in Heroes and Kings. And it includes a wonderful Stone of Solomon. So some idea of Many Dimensions as we know it could have been in the works in January 1926, even including the relation of Stone there to Graal in War in Heaven.


  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Sorry: ‘later’, not ‘latter’, “sketch of an autobiography”.


    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Thank you for these excellent details. So “Adepts,” then, turned into “Shadows of Ecstasy”?


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Yes, via ‘Shadow [in the singular] of Ecstasy’, according to Mrs. Hadfield (p. 92) – when, exactly, she does not say: I assume it was “Adepts of Africa” from December 1925 until whenever that was, but do not recall seeing specific details. The correspondence with Gollancz cited by Mrs. Hadfield spans the period from 18 June 1930 to 28 July 1932.


  3. Pingback: Bibliography: Studies of Charles Williams and his work | The Oddest Inkling

  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    What one does not know; who one has not thought to ask, which questions! I was just reading through the catalogue of the Williams Society Archives, newly online at their site, and what should I find listed among the Papers but “Photocopies of four typed letters from CW to Victor Gollancz” at I.F.xiii/a-f, beginning with “One page letter dated 18 June 1930 with an attached typed sheet of CW’s suggested alterations to Shadows of Ecstasy.” So, this source about the original form of Williams’s first novel and changes suggested and made in the process of revision is accessible, there!


    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Yes, such questions! There’s a conference paper in this for somebody, for sure.


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Grevel Lindop may straighten us out on it enough – but given how much he has to cover, there may still be room for a more detailed little study.


  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I see from the new Williams Society online catalogue of Books, perhaps somewhat confusingly under Part 2, “3. Books not directly related to Charles Williams”, [p. 17], “Christian Symbolism. London: Talbot & Co., n.d. Hb. Gift of R.D. Binfield to the Society”, with Michal Williams (alone) listed as the author, though in her Bibliography of works by C.W., under the heading “Theology” (Image, p. 197), Anne Ridler wrote, “Passages in Christian Symbolism by Michal Williams, Talbot & Co., 1919”, at a date (1958) when Michal was alive and in a position to say something about it.

    I wonder who represents the Estate of Michal (Florence Conway Williams) as author, and how complicated an inexplicit apparent joint-authorship is. But it would be an interesting book to make available again, and more widely (even, perhaps, online).


    • Sørina Higgins says:

      Go for it!
      (Not I, said the little pink pig).


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        What needs doing (it seems to me), is somebody simply scanning a copy for the Internet Archive. But how that might be accomplished, I do not know. Incidentally, they have three books there by C.W.’s uncle, James Charles Wall, including his study, Devils (1904), scanned from a Harvard College Library copy, and, mysteriously, ten other things also listed as his Devils, none of which are!


  6. Pingback: Bibliography: Studies of Charles Williams and his work | The Oddest Inkling

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