So much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
— William Carlos Williams,
“The Red Wheelbarrow”
Throughout his life, William Carlos Williams divided his time two ways — the first was his day job, working as a family doctor. The second, which some historians have claimed he worked harder at, was at being a poet; the creator of modernism and imagism.
Williams was born on Sept. 17, 1883 in Rutherford. His mother was Puerto Rican; his father American. He attended school in Rutherford until his parents sent him at the age of 14 to schools in Geneva and Paris.
After returning to New Jersey, Williams applied and was accepted at the Horace Mann School, an Ivy League college preparatory school in New York City. In 1902, Williams was admitted to the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania.
His first book, “Poems,” was published in 1909.
Williams practiced medicine by day and wrote at night. In addition to poetry, he wrote plays, essays, novels and translations.
According to a bio that appeared in The New York Times, Williams proposed marriage to a woman. When she refused, he married her younger sister, Florence Herman. They lived for many years in Rutherford.
Williams went on to practice medicine and change the landscape of American literary history. He also carried on numerous extra-marital affairs, according to historians.
Nonetheless, he remained with his wife (they had two children together) and went on to become an important figure in state history and was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2009.
The Williams Center in Rutherford is named after the poet.
Williams died on March 4, 1963 after a series of strokes. He’s buried at Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst, not far from where he lived. He’s buried not far from Joey Ramone (Jeff Hyman).