He suffered the first of many strokes in 1951 which forced him to give up medicine and then his position as consultant to the Library of Congress was revoked during the McCarthy anti-communist hysteria, an event that triggered a spell in hospital for depression. He continued to suffer a series of debilitating strokes and died in 1963.
Although his health gradually deteriorated, Williams’ indomitable spirit enabled him to continue writing, completing his long poem, "Paterson," and Pulitzer Prize-winning Pictures from Brueghel. Williams also was appointed as Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress.
He played an active role in the avant-garde poetic movements centered in New York City and was also constantly in touch with Pound's literary activities and associates in Europe. His major difference with Pound (apart from Williams's acutely responsive and realistic presentations of women and his revulsion against fascism; see especially Paterson III-V) lay in his desire to create a specifically American poetics based on the rhythms and colorations of American speech, thought, and experience. His little prose work In the American Grain (1925) is a highly original and intense effort to present--in a sense, to create--the key events and figures of what Horace Gregory, in his introduction to the 1939 reprint, called America's 'mythical history'.
Twenty years ahead of what was then accepted by most readers. Bill had had to pay for publication of his first five books: the 'Poems' of 1909, 'Al Que Quiere,' 'Kora in Hell,' 'Spring and All' and 'The Great American Novel.' And when he finally found a commercial publisher to do his 'Voyage to Pagany,' the firm went bankrupt.
Williams's immersion in and attachment to the lives of Rutherford's townsfolk was mirrored in the aesthetic principles he developed over the years. He consistently advocated and wrote literature that took its themes from ordinary life and its voice from the patterns of common speech. During much of his poetic career, however, these values ran counter to those of the critically acclaimed poetry of the day — namely, the classicist, academic, and formal poetry exemplified by T. S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens.
Williams's father introduced his favorite author, Shakespeare, to his sons and read Dante and the Bible to them as well; but Williams had other interests in study. His enthusiastic pursuit of math and science at New York City's Horace Mann High School "showed how little writing entered into any of my calculations." Later in high school, though, Williams took an interest in languages and felt for the first time the excitement of great books. He recalled his first poem, also written during that time, giving him a feeling of joy.
In his teenage years, Williams ventured to Europe with his mother and brother for two years, studying in Switzerland and France. They attended the Château de Lancy near Geneva and the Lycée Condorcet in Paris. Following Williams’s return to the United States in 1899, his father insisted that he attend Horace Mann High School. While at Horace Mann, William developed his passion for poetry.
He began writing poetry while a student at Horace Mann High School, at which time he made the decision to become both a writer and a doctor. He received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met and befriended Ezra Pound. Pound became a great influence on his writing, and in 1913 arranged for the London publication of Williams's second collection, The Tempers.
William Carlos Williams was born in Rutherford--one of the first commuter-stop towns for those who worked across the Hudson in New York City-- it was Grandma Wellcome who took little "Willie" under her wing. She was about fifty when the boy was born, still full of vigor and independence, and it was she rather than her birdlike, aristocratic, displaced daughter-in-law who became by default the central mythic presence in Williams' young life.
William Carlos Williams an American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism. He was also a pediatrician and general practitioner of medicine, having graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Williams "worked harder at being a writer than he did at being a physician"; but during his lifetime, Williams excelled at both.