Harold Williams

New Zealand Linguist
Born Apr 6, 1876

Harold Williams was a New Zealand journalist, foreign editor of The Times and polyglot who is considered to have been one of the most accomplished polyglots in history, said to have known over 58 languages and other related dialects.

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1876 Birth Harold Williams was born in Auckland on 6 April 1876, the eldest of seven sons. … Read More


1893 17 Years Old In 1893 the Williams family moved to Auckland, where the teenage Harold would visit ships at the Auckland wharves so that he could converse with Polynesian and Melanesian crewmen in their own tongues. … Read More


1903 27 Years Old …  There were days when he had nothing to eat, but he persevered and gained his Ph.D. (on a grammar of the Ilocano language) from the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in 1903. … Read More
1904 28 Years Old In October 1904 he had moved from Paris, in December to St Petersburg and Williams began to send by post dispatches to Reuters. … Read More
In January 1905 Williams obtained positions with the progressive Manchester Guardian in Russia, and worked towards Anglo-Russian rapprochement together with Bernard Pares. … Read More


1914 38 Years Old 1 More Event
…  His book, Russia and the Russians, reflected not only Williams' knowledge, but his astute mind, as H. G. Wells appreciated in a glowing 1914 review for the New York Daily News: … Read More


1916 40 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1916, Walpole and Williams, on the instruction of the Foreign Office, set up a British Propaganda Office in Petrograd. … Read More
1917 41 Years Old 1 More Event
As the war progressed Williams foresaw the coming Russian Revolution of 1917, insistently reporting to British Ambassador Buchanan that discontent was growing. … Read More
1918 42 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1918 increasingly violent events forced Williams and his wife to flee their beloved Russia, and he was immediately recruited as part of the Committee on Russian Affairs, along with Buchanan, Walpole, Bernard Pares and others. … Read More
1921 45 Years Old In 1921 his luck changed. … Read More
1922 46 Years Old In May 1922, he was appointed foreign editor (or as The Times would phrase it, ‘Director of the Foreign Department’). … Read More
1925 49 Years Old Aspiring towards "moral disarmament" he did much to promote and bring to a gratifying conclusion the Treaty of Locarno of December 1925. … Read More


1928 52 Years Old 1 More Event
He had blood transfusions and seemed to rally, but died on 18 November 1928, after taking the sacraments of the Russian Orthodox Church the night before. … Read More
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