Alan Williams was born in Britain and graduated from Cambridge. During his university years he was a political activist fighting on behalf of the opposition to communism in the Eastern Bloc. He took part in the Hungarian uprising in the mid to late 50s. He snuck his way into East Germany to see what conditions were really like. He attended a conference in Poland and helped smuggle a Polish student to the West.
As a reporter, first with Radio Free Europe and later with The Guardian, he worked largely as a foreign correspondent which took him all over the world. He reported from war zones in Africa, the Middle East, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, and more.
He was the godson to the famous Noel Coward.