Denis Joseph Ivan Williams was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1923, where he received his early education. He was granted a Cambridge Junior School Certificate in 1940 and a Cambridge Senior School Certificate in 1941. He later studied painting at the Camberwell School of Art in London (1946-48), but subsequently turned to archaeology, gaining a Master’s degree from the University of Guyana in 1979.
He held several teaching and lecturing positions in England and Africa. From 1967-74 Williams pursued research in Native American tribal art of Guyana, especially petroglyphs. Since 1974 he was the Director of Art and Archaeology with the Department of Culture, Ministry of Education and Culture in Guyana. He died in 1998.
Denis Williams is the author of two novels: Other Leopards (1963) and The Third Temptation (1968). He has also produced several works on West Indian and African art and anthropology. He contributed numerous essays on art to several books and journals.