The partnership was founded by W. Irving Way and Chauncey L. Williams in the spring of 1895. Both men were prominent Chicagoans, and intended to established a prestigious publishing house; Way visited William Morris at the Kelmscott Press in England in April 1895, to arrange for the American release of a Kelmscott Press book, Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Hand and Soul.
Baum's book was attractively published (it was the first book ever illustrated by the young Parrish), though its relatively expensive price meant that its sales were limited. In general the firm was better at publishing fine books than it was at making a profit; Way & Williams went out of business in 1898.
The firm had intended to issue Baum's A New Wonderland, later better known as The Magical Monarch of Mo, but its bankruptcy cancelled the plan. That book was later issued by Robert Howard Russell.
- Kraus, Joe W. "The Publishing Activities of Way & Williams." Bibliographic Society of America, Vol. 10 No. 70 (Spring 1976).