Garth Williams grew up on farms in New Jersey and Canada until the age of 10, when the family moved to England. His artistic talents landed him a job as an architect's assistant, and later a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. During World War II, Williams served in the ambulance unit of the Red Cross.
In 1947, Williams visited Almanzo and Laura Wilder in Mansfield, Missouri to discuss his plans for the "Little House" illustrations. He then retraced the steps of the Ingalls family to familiarize himself with the settings he was to depict. Williams returned to some of these sites in recent years, including an appearance at Rocky Ridge Day in Mansfield in 1991.
The newly illustrated editions of the "Little House" books were published in 1953. In 1994, the books were reissued from the original illustrations, as numerous reprintings had diminished the quality.
Other popular children's books illustrated by Williams include Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, andThe Cricket in Times Square. In 1958, Williams wrote and illustrated The Rabbit's Wedding, in which a black rabbit marries a white rabbit. This book stirred racial tensions in Alabama at the time of publication.
Williams married four times, and had five daughters and a son: Fiona, Bettina, Jessica, Estyn, Dilys, and Dylan. He died on May 8, 1996, at his home in Guanajuato, Mexico, following two bouts of pneumonia. He was buried in Aspen, Colorado, where he lived during the 1930s.