Alexander Williams (August 24, 1818 – January 11, 1900) was a Boston based bookseller and publisher active in the middle to late 19th century. Williams was born near Fort Hill, Roxbury, Boston in 1818, the son of an Episcopalian bookseller, and grandson of Captain Robert Williams. As a young man he was indoctrinated into the book trade by his father and uncle, then the largest booksellers in Boston, who operated under R. P. and C. Williams on Cornhill Square at 209 Washington Street. It is said that the Cornhill bookstore was a popular hangout for luminaries of the period, including Emmerson, Longfellow, Willis, Sargent, Holmes, and others. In 1832 Williams moved to New York in order to expand his knowledge of the book trade under Elam Bliss, a New York bookseller and publisher. In New York, Williams befriended Aaron Burr, J. Fennimore Cooper, Fitz Green Halleck, and Washington Irving, among others. Williams returned to Boston in 1840 to take a position with George W. Redding in the publishing and magazine distribution department of Redding and Company. By 1841, he had become a silent partner in the Redding firm setting up a magazine delivery service throughout New England. By 1855 the newspaper and magazine delivery service became so prosperous that the partners determined to split it off as the New England News Company, with Williams as the head and primary shareholder. Shortly thereafter, Williams left the New England News Company to work again with his father and uncle on Washington Street. In 1869, one of the most iconic bookstores in Boston, the Old Corner Book Shop (27-29 Bromfield Street) became vacant. Williams took it over, operating it until his retirement in 1869. In 1883, he dissolved the old Cornhill Shop, which was at the time a partnership consisting of Williams, C. L. Damrell, H. M Upham, and J. G. Cuppers. Williams lived at 139 Newbury Street, Boston. He died in 1900 of complications relating to pneumonia and advanced age. He was survived by two sons, Alexander Williams J. and Charles C. Williams, and one daughter.

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