Born to a Welsh-speaking family in Swansea, Rowan Williams went to a nearby state-school where he proved himself to be a relentlessly studious child. By his early-teens he was not only reading extensively but also writing poetry and essays on history and religion. He went on to study and teach theology at both Oxford and Cambridge.
In 1986 he became the youngest professor at Oxford, a year after having been arrested for protesting against nuclear proliferation at RAF Alconbury. Following a series of academic appointments he was elected and consecrated as Bishop of Monmouth, in a “calling he could not refuse”, giving him an opportunity to return to the Church in his home country. He later became Archbishop of Wales before taking up the See of Canterbury. Rowan was the 105th Archbishop in a line that goes back more than 1500 years to Augustine of Canterbury in 597.