A Frosty Morning JMW Turner

A Frosty Morning JMW Turner
A Frosty Morning is one of my favourite Turners. With thanks to Tate Britain

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Who was this man whom they say discovered the Brontes?

Charlotte Bronte described him as pale, mild, stooping man of about fifty.

We know, or can infer, that his schooling brought him into contact with boys who would go on to careers as significant thinkers and writers. We know that his social group included or was close to some of the most exciting thinking of his time. He grew up close to theatre land and both had a great love of theatre and a deep knowledge of it. He had a love of painting, Turner in particular; he wrote on the place of Art in Design. He worked for many years for a ground breaking Lithographer; he wrote on the techniques of Lithography. Yet, his emergence into the public view was from a position as a book keeper, and it would seem not a very good book keeper.

But who really was William Smith Williams?

The book I am researching sets out to trace whence he came and whither he went to find the characteristics that enabled him, among many far more eminent, to recognise a groundbreaking shift in the English novel.

Friday, 1 April 2016

William's love of books

At some point William must have fallen under the spell of books for at the age of 25, newly married, he was running his own bookshop. We might pause and try to imagine what that shop might have been like. Books were expensive items. How well could a young man of modest means stock his shop? What titles might he carry? What customers may he have had? We can reach for our edition of Oliver Twist and the scene where the old gentleman is in the bookshop. Might William’s have been like that? Can we fast forward nearly two centuries to the book shop in Notting Hill run by another William in the film of that name?

Yet his father had been a Wax and Tallow Chandler and his family dealers in hides. Where might the love have come from?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

William Smith Williams

William Smith Williams, my great great uncle, discovered Charlotte Bronte and was a rock of encouragement to her.

William and his wife Mary had eight children, among whom and whose progeny there were a number of fascinating and significant people.

Anna Williams was a celebrated singer and was Professor of Singing at the Royal College of Music in the late 19th century. Sir Arthur Dickinson was one of the founders of Price Waterhouse in the USA. Goldie Dickinson was a fellow of King's College Cambridge, mentor of EM Forster, and who worked on the formation of the League of Nations.

I am currently researching with a view to writing the story of this intriguing family and placing my research on pages on this blog.