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Happy Birthday To William Carlos Williams, Rutherford's Poet, Doctor

William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams Photo Credit: Gilda Healy

Happy birthday William Carlos Williams, a Rutherford native known as much for his life as a doctor as his poetry.

Williams was born Sept. 17, 1883 and died March 4, 1963 at the age of 79. He would have turned 133 on Saturday.

Although his primary occupation was as a family doctor in Rutherford, he had a successful and well-known literary career as a poet.

He was affiliated with Passaic General Hospital, now St. Mary's General Hospital Passaic.

Williams married Florence Herman (1891–1976) and had two sons, William E. Williams and Paul H. Williams. His first son also became a Rutherford doctor, taking over his practice.

His Rutherford house is on the National Register of Historic Places, and he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Williams figures among the group of four major American poets born in the 12-year period following 1874, including Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens and H.D. (Hilda Doolittle).

He practiced medicine by day and wrote poetry at night, including short stories, plays, novels, essays and translations.

His modernist collage "Paterson" (1946-1958) is an account of the history, people and essence of the city of Paterson, N.J.

Williams had an influence on many of the American literary movements of the 1950s, including the Beat movement. He was a mentor to fellow New Jersey poet Allen Ginsberg.

Williams included several of Ginsberg's letters in "Paterson." He also wrote the introduction to Ginsberg's first book, "Howl and Other Poems," in 1956.

Williams was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1963 for "Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems" (1962).

He died at his home in Rutherford, following a heart attack after a series of strokes.

Williams is buried in Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst.

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