National Institute of Arts and Letters


William Carlos Williams served as a physician in his home town of Rutherford, New Jersey, from 1910 to 1951, and in hours after work wrote fiction, poetry, plays, and criticism. He was born on September 17, 1883, in Rutherford, educated at Horace Mann School in New York, and from 1902 until 1906 studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he met Ezra Pound and Hilda Doolittle. He interned at the French Hospital and Nursery and Child's Hospital until 1909, and the next year, after studying briefly in Leipzig, touring Europe, and visiting his old friend Pound in London, set up his private medical practice in Rutherford. In 1912 Williams married Florence (Flossie) Herman, who gave birth to their two sons, William Eric in 1914, and Paul in 1916. Over the next seven years, despite the demands of his medical practice and a young family, Williams published four books of verse, Al Que Quiere! (1917), Kora in Hell (1920), Sour Grapes (1921), and Spring and All (1921), that clearly established him as America's foremost modernist poet. Because his poetry was not received warmly at first, he shifted into fiction and plays, but the major work of his life proved to be Paterson, an epic poem published in five volumes from 1946 to 1958. In 1926 he had won an award from The Dial for a poem titled "Paterson," and the theme stuck. Recognition came slowly. The University of Washington at Seattle invited him to be visiting professor of English in 1948, but his 1949 appointment as consultant of poetry at Library of Congress was withdrawn after an investigation into his associations with Ezra Pound, although the appointment was renewed in 1952. In 1950 Williams was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1953 shared the Bollingen Award with Archibald MacLeish. All his life, from his early editing of Contact in 1923, Williams befriended younger poets. The letters to many, such as Denise Levertov, have survived. On March 4, 1963, Williams died in his sleep after years of illness, especially strokes in 1951-52, 1958, and 1961. He was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Gold Medal for Poetry of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. His volumes of poetry are as follows:

  • Williams, William C. Poems (privately printed, 1909)
  • Williams, William Carlos. The Tempers (London: Elkin Mathews, 1913).
  • --. A Book of Poems: Al Que Quiere! (Boston: The Four Seas Company, 1917). York University Library Special Collections 5773
  • --. Sour Grapes: A Book of Poems (Boston: The Four Seas Company, 1921). York University Library Special Collections 4748
  • --. Spring and All (1923: New York: Frontier Press, 1970). PS 3545 .I544S7 1970 Victoria College Library
  • --. The Cod Head ( Harvest Press, 1932).
  • --. An Early Martyr and Other Poems (New York: Alcestis Press, 1935).
  • Adam & Eve & the City (Peru, Vermont: Alcestis Press, 1936).
  • Complete Collected Poems (Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1938) PS 3545 I544 A17 1938 York University Library
  • The Broken Span (Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions, 1941). York University Library Special Collections 4737
  • The Wedge (Cummington, Mass.: Cummington Press, 1944).
  • Paterson (New York: J. Laughlin, 1963). 5 vols., published separately 1946-58. 811.5 W728pa Trinity College Library
  • --. The Clouds (Wells College Press and Cummington Press, 1948)
  • --. The Pink Church (Golden Goose Press, 1949). York University Library Special Collections 5832
  • The Desert Music, and Other Poems (New York: Random House, 1954). PS 3545 I544D4 Robarts Library
  • Journey to Love (New York: Random House, 1955). PS 3545 I544J6 Robarts Library
  • --. "The Lost Poems of William Carlos Williams," ed. John C. Thirlwall, in New Directions 16 (1957).
  • Pictures from Bruegel, and Other Poems (New York: for J. Laughlin by New Directions, 1962). PS 3545 .I544P45 Trinity College Library

See also

  • The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams (New York: New Directions, 1967). PS 3545 I544Z52 1967B Robarts Library
  • The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams: Volume I, 1909-1939, ed. A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan (New York: New Directions, 1986). PS 3545 I544A17 Robarts Library
  • I Wanted to Write a Poem: the Autobiography of the Works of a Poet, ed. Edith Heal (London: Cape, 1967). PS 3545 I544Z52 1967 Robarts Library
  • The Letters of Denise Levertov and William Carlos Williams, ed. Christopher MacGowan (New York: New Directions, 1998). PS 3562 .E8876Z49 Robarts Library
  • Mariani, Paul. William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981). PS 3545 I544 Z6534 Erindale College Library
  • Something to Say: William Carlos Williams on Younger Poets, ed. James E.B. Breslin (New York: New Directions, 1985.). PS 324 W47 1985 Robarts Library
  • Wagner, Linda Welshimer. William Carlos Williams: A Reference Guide (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1978). Z 8976 .44 W27 Robarts Library
  • --. "Williams, William Carlos." American National Biography Online. American Council of Learned Societies: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Wallace, Emily Mitchell. A Bibliography of William Carlos Williams (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1968). Z 8976 .44 W3 Robarts Library
  • William Carlos Williams reads his poetry (Caedmon TC 1047, 1958). PS 3014 Erindale College Library AUDIOCASS

Charles G. D. Roberts was born on January 10, 1860, in Douglas, New Brunswick, and grew up near the Tantramar marshes by Sackville. Educated at Fredericton Collegiate School from 1874 to 1876, and at the University of New Brunswick from 1876 to 1879, Roberts quickly published his first book of poetry, Orion, and Other Poems (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1880; PS 8485 .O22 O7). He married Mary Fenety that same year, and they had five children up to 1892. After acting as schoolmaster in Chatham and Fredericton, he taught English and French at King's College in Windsor, Nova Scotia, from 1885 to 1895. Three volumes of poetry came out during this period

In Divers Tones (Boston: D. Lothrop, 1886; PS 8485 .O22 I48)
Poems of Wild Life (London: W. Scott, 1888; PN 6110 N2R63)
Songs of the Common Day and Ave (Toronto: W. Briggs, 1893; B-10 0376)

and Roberts was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada this year. After resigning from King's College in 1895, and determining to work free-lance, Roberts separated from his wife, daughter, and sons in 1897, leaving Canada for New York City, where he stayed from until 1907, and then for Europe, first in Paris, by 1910 in Munich, and after 1912 in London, England, until 1925. During this period he earned his living from writing fiction, especially animal stories and romances, and non-fiction prose. He served during War World I in the 16th Battalion of the King's Regiment, then as captain at the London Canadian War Records Office, and last as a Major and a press correspondent in France. While living outside Canada, Roberts produced four volumes of verse:

New York Nocturnes and Other Poems (Boston: Lamson, 1898; B-10 6603)
Poems (New York: Silver Burdett, 1901; rev. 1907; PS 8485 .O22 A17)
The Book of the Rose (Toronto: Copp, Clark, 1903; Ps 8485 .O22 B6)
New Poems (London: Constable, 1919; PS 8485 O22N4)

In 1925 Roberts went to live in Toronto and his wandering, expatriotic life ended. He gave poetry recital tours in 1925-26. His wife Mary died in 1930. Late in his life, when Roberts was recognized as the father of Canadian literature, he brought out four more substantial volumes of poetry:

The Vagrant of Time (Toronto: Ryerson, 1927; PS 8485 .O22 V3)
The Iceberg, and Other Poems (Toronto: Ryerson, 1934; PS 8485 O22 I3)
Selected Poems (Toronto: Ryerson, 1936; PS 8485 .O22 A17)
Canada Speaks of Britain and Other Poems of the War (Toronto: Ryerson, 1941; cap Fisher Rare Book Library)

Roberts received many honours: he was awarded the Royal Society of Canada's first Lorne Pierce Medal and was elected President of the Canadian Authors' Association in 1926, and he was knighted on June 3, 1935. Before his death on November 26, 1943, he was married again to Joan Montgomery. Roberts is buried in Fredericton. See also

  • Adams, John Coldwell. Sir Charles god damn: the Life of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986. PS 8485 .O22 Z44 Robarts Library
  • The Collected Poems of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts: A Critical Edition. Ed. Desmond Pacey, assisted by Graham Adams. Wolfville, Nova Scotia: Wombat Press, 1985. PS 8485 O22A17 Robarts Library.
  • Collected Letters. Ed. Laurel Boone. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 1989. PS 8485 .O22 Z48 Robarts Library.
  • Pomeroy, Elsie May. Sir Charles G. D. Roberts: A Biography. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1943. PS 8485 .O22 Z83 Robarts Library.