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Insights into the relationship between Alfred and his wife Mary.
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Leonard Clark, who never met Alfred nor Mary, tries to sum up their relationship in his 1945 biography, with some of the coyness that was typical of the age:

Alfred Williams was very blest in the choice of his partner. From the beginning, Mary Williams recognised the greatness in him and ministered to his many needs accordingly. She guarded him jealously, seeing to it that he was not disturbed when occupied with study. She was no scholar herself, but was sympathetic to all he undertook; her nature was so finely drawn that she understood the urge of all his strivings. Hers was not an enviable existence, yet she looked upon her task as a privilege. Of a shy and retiring disposition, she made few frineds in the early years of her marriage, which meant that she was practically alone for the greater part of the day; in the evening when Alfred returned, it was only to see him turn to his books until bed-time. The brief companionship of their evening meal, when he poured forth on all the happenings of the day, and dwelt upon his aims and desires, was her greatest joy. He would have liked to have given more time to her, but it was she who unselfishly pressed him on to his goal. This was, as later events proved, a mistake, for he - a complete egoist - learned to rely entirely upon her, and she tended to make of him a god. Of her he said, "No matter how late it is when I go to bed, Mrs Williams will not retire until I do so. She is indispensable to my pursuits. While she knits I communicate with my gods. We lead a simple and quiet life and I could not endure the thought of disturbance unless it were to bring me in closer touch with facilities for realising the passion within me."

Sunday afternoons was a special time for them. Whereas the traditional picture is of Alfred wandering the countryside, enjoying its flora and fauna alone, on Sundays he would be accompanied by Mary. Iroinically, given that they were to have no children of their own, these walks would often include stops to talk to the children they met, Alfred always keen to talk to them about their hobbies. He knew them all by name, and they called him 'Mister Willums'.


By Graham Carter