New Museum Display — Charles Williams and Victor Gollancz: The Story of a Publishing Team

Off the Shelf

Announcing a new display installed in the Wade Center’s museum in May, featuring correspondence between Charles Williams and his publisher Victor Gollancz: “Charles Williams and Victor Gollancz: The Story of a Publishing Team.” This is the second post this month on Charles Williams, in memory of the 70th anniversary of his death on May 15, 1945.


The letters in the display come from a collection of correspondence deposited at the Wade Center by Brian and Sally Oxley.  The Wade Center is grateful to the Oxleys for these unique materials, and the story they share relating the publication history of Williams’s works. The full letter collection on deposit is listed in the Charles Williams Papers finding aid, folders 492 to 498. Wade Center visitors may view these and other collections in the Reading Room.

Victor Gollancz and his namesake publishing house became one of the most successful publishers in Britain…

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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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7 Responses to New Museum Display — Charles Williams and Victor Gollancz: The Story of a Publishing Team

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Thanks for bringing this fascinating post and exhibition to our attention!


  2. Sorina,

    If you feel inclined, please leave a message at the Williams Yahoo Group letting people know that I have Chesterton’s play–Magic–available for free download in both ePub and Mobi formats. We all know that Williams was influenced by the poetry of GKC, but this is the only STORY of Chesterton’s (in my opinion) that actually reads like something Williams could have written.




    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      Great! (I see has a dramatic-reading version of it, but haven’t tried it, yet.) A play well worth getting to know, in any case! It came out a little over a year after Williams had finished the Chapel of the Thorn MS.

      Do you know Chesterton’s The Judgement of Dr. Johnson? It was published (1927) and reprinted (1930) just around the time Williams was getting really productive in writing, putting on, and publishing plays, and might be interesting to compare and contrast with Three Plays and the Myths of Shakespeare and of Bacon in terms of approaches to working with ‘period’ and ‘historical’ subjects – as well as being a very good play to read in its own right! (Maybe somebody can LibriVox it, or something of the sort somewhere online.)


      • I’ve heard of The Judgement of Dr. Johnson but have never read that one. I’ve read all of GKC’s novels and most of his short stories though. I’ve also read all of CW’s novels and his one short story, as well as a collection of his plays. It’s left me scratching my head at times wondering how Williams could have held GKC in such high esteem, and yet they read nothing alike (except for some of their poetry). But then I read Magic a few months ago and immediately thought it sounded like something Williams could have written. Not having read GKC’s other play (I believe the one you mentioned about Johnson was GKC’s only other play), I’m guessing you may be right and that Williams took more inspiration from Chesterton’s plays than his other stories.

        Incidentally, I saw somewhere (here or at the Coinherence Group) that several of you read Underhill’s The Column of Dust recently. I’ve put together a well formatted eBook version of it now although I still need to proof it a little more carefully. (The ePub version at the Internet Archive was a mess!) I have it for sale already at Amazon, but I’ll leave a link to free versions of ePub and Mobi at my MacDonald What’s New page by the end of the day and will leave it there for a couple of weeks in case any of you want a nicer reading version. I also have Grey World and will probably format that one as well sometime in the future.



        • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

          It is interesting to think that Williams’s first published dramatic work (so far as I know) appeared under the editorship of G.K. Chesterton in New Witness, vol. 15 (12 December 1919): “Scene from a Mystery”. Come January, it will (again, as far as I know) be out of copyright for anyone to perform or republish who wants to! Meanwhile, perhaps Grevel Lindop will have been able to devote a little attention to it, in his biography.


          • I don’t know if I’ve read that one or not. I once checked out a book from the library that was a collection of his plays, although I don’t believe it was extant, so it may not have contained this one. The name doesn’t ring a bell. To be honest though, his plays weren’t anywhere near as good as his novels in my opinion.


            • Wait; I meant to say comprehensive rather than extant. That is, I don’t think the collection had ALL of CW’s plays. In fact, I’m sure it didn’t. It had nine plays in it, and I’m sure he wrote more of them than that.


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