Below is the link to an article I wrote for Bronte Studies. I have since published a book, Charlotte Bronte’s Devotee, telling the whole of what I discovered about this fascinating man. The article is but the bare bones. The book is available from the Bronte Parsonage online.
The article explores some of what is known of William Smith Williams, the reader at Smith, Elder and Company, who discovered and mentored Charlotte Brontë. It traces his childhood, education and early career. His interest in art was perhaps as great as that in literature and the article explores a number of his writings on the subject. His correspondence with Charlotte Brontë is well known; less familiar is his relationship with John Ruskin on which this article seeks to shed some light. It will show that William Smith Williams was very much a Renaissance man who attracted both friendship and respect from many of the nineteenth century’s leading writers, artists and thinkers.
A preface to the article explains my interest:
Philip Hamlyn Williams’s interest in William Smith William stems from his irritation that William Smith Williams seemed to be dismissed by many Brontë biographers. He holds an MA in Professional Writing and in 2008, as a mature student, was awarded a First Class Degree in Humanities from the University of Exeter. He, previously, had pursued careers in professional services, principally as a partner in accountants Price Waterhouse and the not-for-profit sector. He is the author of two books on the how the British army was supplied in the two World Wars: War on Wheels and Ordnance, both published by The History Press, Gloucester, England.
Correspondence to: Philip Hamlyn Williams. Email: email@example.com. Website: www.philwilliamswriter.co.uk.
The article, published by Taylor & Francis in Bronte on 18 March 2019, is available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/