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"The Department of English is dedicated to promoting an understanding and appreciation of the ways in which men and women have represented their worlds, real or imagined, in literature. As a lively community of teaching scholars, we are committed to engaging our students in the richness and variety of English poetry, drama and prose fiction, from the canon of traditional English literature to marginalized, avant-garde and experimental literary works. The diversity of our program encourages students to explore the aesthetic, rhetorical, historical, philosophical, cultural and ideological dimensions of English literature, to discover the power of literary art."1

English became an official department at William & Mary in 1888 known as Department of English and History. Professor J. Lesslie Hall directed the organization of the department. Dr. Hall served as department chair for over forty years, stepping down in 1928. Under Dr. Hall, the instruction of English grew from grammar and writing to literature. (Jackson) Former President of the College, Dr. J.A.C. Chandler taught in the English department.

Currently, the English department sponsors several programs such as the Donaldson Writers in Residence and the Patrick Hayes Writers Series. The Donaldson Writers in Residence program was established in 1971 and supported by an endowment created by professor emeritus J. Scott Donaldson and his wife Vivian. The Patrick Hayes Writers Series, created in 1991, is a festival for writers. Some of the writers sponsored by the series include Edward P. Jones, Ian Caldwell, and Ava Coibion.

Heads of the Department of English

Associate Chairs of the Department


Material in the Special Collections Research Center


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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.