This is the second post in a series about Charles Williams and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. You can access the others via this index.
I learned the Williams information from six sources, and have been reading around in all kinds of random sources for the Golden Dawn/Rosicrucian stuff, including dear old wikipedia:
Ashenden, Gavin. Charles Williams: Alchemy and Integration. Kent State University Press, 2007. Print.
Brewer, Elisabeth. “Charles Williams and Arthur Edward Waite.” Seven vol. 4 (1983). 54-67.
Dunning, Stephen M. The Crisis and the Quest: A Kierkegaardian Reading of Charles Williams. Waynesboro, GA: Paternoster Press, 2000. Print.
King, Roma A. Jr. The Pattern in the Web: The Mythical Poetry of Charles Williams. Kent State University Press, 1900. Print.
Willard, Thomas. "Acts of the Companions: A. E. Waite's Fellowship and the Novels of Charles Williams." academia.edu. Web.
I strongly recommend all of these works. Each covers different material and they are quite complimentary.
Ashenden's focuses on the long history of hermeticism, especially alchemy as a spiritual practice, then relates this to Williams. It is learned and comprehensive.
Cavaliero's is a more specific study of Williams and takes a positive approach to his Christianity. It is an excellent study of the Arthurian poetry.
Dunning's quite obviously originated as a dissertation, and is sometimes a bit forced in its comparisons of Williams and Kierkegaard. However, it is an intelligent philosophical study of one of the most important themes in Williams's writing: his use of a particular “Crisis of Schism” as a form of literary theory. Dunning's argument turns on a Kierkegaardian distinction between religions of Transcendence (in which God is separate from His creation) and Immanence (in which God dwells in people to some extent): Christianity, so Dunning argues that Kierkegaard believed, must be only the former; occult religions are the latter, and to the extent that Williams was an occultist, so far his beliefs were contrary to Christian truth. I have a bit more work to do to wrap my head around all the details of this argument and to fully understand this book—and discover whether or not I think it is a correct reading of Williams. In any case, it has an excellent appendix on Williams and Waite.
Gilbert's book is a disorganized, non-chronological, confusing biography of A.E. Waite (Williams's occult mentor). But it's the only bio of Waite I know about, and has a very useful chapter on Williams and Waite.
King's I haven't yet read all the way through, but it's an excellent poetic study and has a very helpful section on Williams and the Rosy Cross.