Charles Walter Stansby Williams was born in London in 1886. He dropped out of University College London in 1904, and was hired by Oxford University Press as a proof-reader, quickly rising to the position of editor. While there, arguably his greatest editorial achievement was the publication of the first major English-language edition of the works of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.
Williams began writing in the twenties and went on to publish seven novels. Of these, the best-known are probably War in Heaven (1930), Descent into Hell (1937), and All Hallows' Eve (1945) – all fantasies set in the contemporary world. He also published a vast body of well-received scholarship, including a study of Dante entitled The Figure of Beatrice (1944) which remains a standard reference text for academics today, and a highly unconventional history of the church, Descent of the Dove (1939).
Williams garnered a number of well-known admirers, including T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden and C. S. Lewis. Towards the end of his life, he gave lectures at Oxford University on John Milton, and received an honorary MA degree.
Williams died almost exactly at the close of World War II, aged 58.