Media File
Charles David Williams
Date: American illustrator, 1880–1954
Biography: Charles David Williams (1875-1954) was born in New York City. He was the son of salesman Charles H. Williams (1849-1879, Connecticut) and domestic worker Mary A. Conlin (born 1850, NYC). Their family home was at 178 Madison Street, NYC.

After his father's death, Williams and his mother lived with her widowed father, James Conlin (laborer, born 1825, Ireland) at 73 Leroy Street, NYC.

In 1887, Williamd finished seventh grade of public school and entered the work force as an errand boy in the editorial office of a syndicated newspaper. In 1892, Williams was transferred to the company's Chicago office, where he began to work on the staff as a newspaper artist.

After some time, he joined he art staff of The Saturday Evening Post. In 1898 newspaper advertisements for the December 22 issue of The Saturday Evening Post feature an introduction to the public of "a new artist, C. D. Williams."

By 1900 he was back in NYC and lived with his mother at 619 Lexington Avenue. That year, he was mistakenly arrested for molesting a young woman. His reputation was compromised in newspaper accounts of the subsequent trial, including one noteworthy lampoon by journalist Leigh Bierce (1874-1901), the son of Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914).

On April 27, 1901, Williams married Josephine E. Black (born 1871, NYC). The couple moved to 312 West 109th Street. He also rented an art studio space at 118 East 28th Street, from which he conducted his freelance art career.

In 1909 Williams wrote the essay, "The Illustrator" for inclusion in "The Building of a Book" published by The Grafton Press.

In 1910, he became a founding member of the Society of Illustrators of New York; he later served as President. Other founding members included Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), Frank DuMond (1865-1951) and Lejaren Hiller. Another member of the club, James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960), drew his portrait.

In 1912 Charles and Josephine Williams rented a country home at 10 Stonelea Place in New Rochelle, NY, which was a fashionable community for illustrators such as Joseph & Frank Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell and Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952).

Rather than commute by train to Grand Central Station, the artist bought a Maxwell automobile. Between 1913 and 1918, he was cited several times for speeding. While living in New Rochelle he became fascinated with golf, as did several other local artists, including George Kerr, Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) and Fontaine Fox (1884-1964).

Williams illustrations continued to appear regularly in national magazines, including Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, American, and The Ladies Home Journal.

On September 12, 1918, he registered with the draft during World War I. He was 43 years old, and recorded to be of medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and brown hair.

Williams was frequently commissioned for pulp magazines covers. His work appeared on The Cavalier, Blue Book, The Argosy, All-Story, All-Story Weekly, and All-Story Love. He also drew interior pen and ink illustrations for pulp magazines such as Munsey's Magazine and All-Story Love.

In 1936 he was consulted as a beauty expert by a New York Post fashion columnist. In 1937 he began to teach Illustration at the National Academy of Design at 1083 Fifth Avenue near 89th Street. In 1938 he painted the cover of the December 3rd issue of Liberty Magazine. In 1939 he and his wife moved to Tenafly, New Jersey, where they lived at 326 Knickerbocker Road.

On April 27, 1942 during WWII he registered with the selective service as required by law. He was sixty-seven. He was recorded to be five-eight, 133 pounds, blue eyes, brown hair with a scar on left cheek. After the war he retired from illustration and concentrated on painting commissioned portraits.

In 1948 he and his wife moved to 143 Liberty Road in Englewood, NJ. They had no children. According to the daughter of his landlady, "He was a delightful, warm, talented and encouraging artist to all who knew him."

Charles D. Williams died after a long illness at home in Englewood, NJ, at the age of seventy-eight on January 10, 1954.

Source: David Saunders 2014. Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists.