John Williams read English and History at the University of York, where his DPhil, a comparative study of Wordsworth and Blake in the context of British Radicalism 1780-1820, was supervised by John Dixon Hunt and Gwyn Alfred Williams. He retired as Professor of Literary Studies from the University of Greenwich in 2010.
William Wordsworth: Romantic Poetry and Revolution Politics, his third book, was published by Manchester University Press in 1989. Subsequent books include William Wordsworth: A Literary Life (Macmillan 1996), Mary Shelley: A Literary Life (Macmillan 2000), and William Wordsworth: Critical Issues (Palgrave Macmillan 2002). In 1993 he edited the Wordsworth volume of the Macmillan New Casebook series.
Wordsworth Translated: A Case Study of the Reception of British Romantic Poetry in Germany 1804-1914 was published by Continuum Press in 2009. This book explores for the first time the wide-spread German reception of Wordsworth in the context of Anglo-German literary, social, and political relationships, and the development of translation theories in both countries.
Journal articles and chapters in books have included work on Percy and Mary Shelley, Thomas Chatterton, Walter Scott, William Blake and T. F. Powys in addition to Wordsworth. Recent publications include `”Marginal Gothic” in Walter Scott and William Wordsworth`, in Literature Compass (2010); `Building a Heaven in Hell’s Despair`: The Everlasting Gospel of Revolution in William Blake and Douglas Oliver`, in Romanticism (2012); `Natives, Outcasts, and Aliens: Sir Walter Scott and the Writing of Modern London`, in The Literary London Journal (2013); and `A Solemn Bleat: Charles Lamb agrees to review William Wordsworth’s The Excursion`, in The Charles Lamb Bulletin (2014).
Forthcoming publications are an essay on Wordsworth’s Peter Bell, `Addicted to Doubt`, for The Coleridge Bulletin 2016, and a chapter on the influence of London literature in the Romantic Period on contemporary novels set in and around London, including reference to Peter Ackroyd, J. G. Ballard, Zadie Smith, and John Lanchester.