This collection contains all 52 of Williams’s published stories, together with a new introduction by physician-writer, Sherwin B. Nuland. The stories were first collected in one volume in 1961 under the title The Farmer’s Daughers (New Directions); that book, in turn, included three earlier collections, plus "The Farmer’s Daughters"(1956), Williams’s last published story.

Thirteen stories featuring physician protagonists were previously collected by Robert Coles and issued by New Directions as The Doctor Stories (1984). (That volume also includes several poems and an "Afterword" by Williams’s son.) Among the stories with medical themes are Old Doc Rivers, The Girl with a Pimply Face annotated by Jack Coulehan (also annotated by John A. Woodcock), The Use of Force annotated by Felice Aull (also annotated by Pamela Moore and Jack Coulehan), Jean Beicke(annotated by Felice Aull and also by Pamela Moore and Jack Coulehan--see Jean Beicke), A Night in June, and A Face of Stone. The tales of a nonmedical nature include such masterpieces as "The Knife of the Times," "A Visit to the Fair," "Life Along the Passaic River," "The Dawn of Another Day," "The Burden of Loveliness," and "Frankie the Newspaper Man."


As Sherwin Nuland writes in the Introduction, Williams’s goal was to express "the elusive quality he called ’the thing’ in human experience." Nuland goes on to suggest that Williams’s "thing" is a "brief insight into the humanity of our fellows that helps us to understand, even if only for a moment, the world and ourselves in a way we have never done before." This insight arises from the particularity of ordinary people, language, and events described in his stories. The working class, the immigrant poor, urban New Jersey, 1920’s to ’40’s--Williams brings vividly to life these people, their place and time.

There is also an "underlying sexuality" (to quote Dr. Nuland again) that runs through a surprising number of these stories; see, for example, "The Dawn of Another Day." "The Knife of the Times" is a sensual tour de force; in four short pages, Williams creates a highly erotic and explicit tale of lesbian love.


Introduction by Sherwin B. Nuland.


New Directions

Place Published

New York



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