Margery Williams (1881 – 1944)

Margery Williams was an English-American author best known for her children's book The Velveteen Rabbit (1922).

Williams's father was a noted barrister and scholar who was loving and supportive of his daughters, encouraging them to read and write. His death when Margery was only seven years old greatly impacted her life.

In 1890 her family moved from London to the United States, but she returned to London at the age of 19 to pursue writing and published her first novel in 1902, The Late Returning. Two other novels followed, The Price Of Youth, and The Bar, although none of them found success.

Williams met and married Francesco Bianco and the couple had two children, one of which, Pamela, was a renowned child artist. Pamela even illustrated a few of her mother's works, The Skin Horse and The Little Wooden Doll.

After marrying and having children Williams took some time off from writing, returning to it in 1914 with a horror novel The Thing in the Woods under the pseudonym Harper Williams. This werewolf novel was even known by H. P. Lovecraft (who wrote a poem about it) and it is considered an inspiration for his tale The Dunwich Horror.

Williams's real success came after World War I had ended and she returned to the United States where she published The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real (1922). Her book Poor Cecco was illustrated by Arthur Rackham and is quite a desirable collection piece, although many of her works are rather hard to find these days.

She published 2 dozen books for children and young adults during the rest of her lifetime, including Winterbound, a young adult book that was retroactively awarded a Newbery Honor Award.

At the start of WWII, Williams began to include patriotic themes and references to European history in her works. Her final book, Forward Commandos!, was an inspirational story of wartime heroism, featured a black soldier as a character. It was rare to acknowledge the contribution of African-Americans to the war effort and that fact was even noted in the book's reviews.

Books by Margery Williams