In his life and work, William Carlos Williams was in many ways as complex and contradictory a figure as his name would suggest. This American writer was born to a father of English stock and a mother of mixed French, Spanish, and Jewish heritage, neither of whom was originally from the United States. After seeing the girl he wanted to marry become engaged to his brother, Williams impulsively proposed to her sister, an action that became the basis for a marriage that would last until his death more than fifty years later. He wrote and published an enormous amount of poetry and critical prose, several books of short stories, a number of plays, and four novels, all while pursuing a full-time practice as a medical doctor.
William Carlos Williams was born on September 17, 1883 in Rutherford, New Jersey. Like Chekhov, he studied medicine and became a country doctor before he discovered his potential as a writer. He earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and began practicing as a pediatrician in his hometown of Rutherford (near the present-day Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford) before publishing his first literary work, 'Poems,' in 1909. He wrote stories, plays and autobiographies as well as poems.
In his work, he wished to speak like an American within an American context of small cities, immigrants, and workers. He wanted his poetic line to reflect the rhythm of everyday speech and drew his subject matter from ordinary surroundings -- a painting, a red wheelbarrow, a dish of plums. Williams's collections include Spring and All (both poetry and prose; 1923); Paterson, which was published in five books (1946, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958); and Pictures from Brueghel (1962). Williams also wrote essays, some of which are collected in In the American Grain (1925). .