My recent series based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s lengthy essay “On Fairy-Stories” has renewed my interest in the group of scholars and writers known as the Inklings who famously met in the Oxford pub The Eagle and Child. Hence I’d like to do a bit more investigation about the group, the individuals, their writing, and the legacy of their work. Consider this a sort of introduction to this new series.
You may or may not know that C. S. Lewis has an online presence, thanks to a variety of sources — scholarly organizations, the publisher reissuing his books, his family. One such site is Books by C. S. Lewis, a blog put out by HarperOne. Their official statement:
This blog, officially part of HarperOne’s CSLewis.com, offers original work on and about C. S. Lewis from scholars who have written far and wide about his stories, his theology, and his world. We are in line to add new entries every few weeks and we encourage your comments and feedback as we develop this resource.
From the blog I learned more about something I recently heard on the radio — there is a stage play of The Screwtape Letters that will be produced throughout the country this year, starting in Los Angeles (Jan. 14-15). For more details and the dates of the production nearest you, visit the Screwtape Letters theater site.
I also learned about a scholarly journal published by the Wade Center at Wheaton College entitled Seven in honor of the seven writers and thinkers often referred to as the Inklings. In the latest volume, you’ll find two essays, accessible online, about George MacDonald by G. K. Chesterton — “George Macdonald and His work” and “George Macdonald”:
Perhaps because George MacDonald rapidly lost popularity at the beginning of the twentieth century, these two essays by Chesterton were never reprinted and have been somewhat forgotten.
From the Facebook page, I learned about special sales prices of two well-loved C. S. Lewis titles:
Throughout January the e-book versions of The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce are being offered at special promotional prices.
This section enumerates odds and ends, primarily about Owen Barfield, I learned in my exploration for this introduction to the series on the Inklings. Perhaps I’m the only one who didn’t already know these items.
Barfield wrote very little fiction, though his first book was a children’s fantasy, The Silver Trumpet.
His first name was Arthur.
He lived to be 100, passing away in 1997. He has thus received the tag as the first and last Inkling.
He and his wife adopted three children, Alexander, Lucy, and Geoffrey, and it was to Lucy that C. S. Lewis dedicated The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. He also dedicated The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to Geoffrey.
Barfield had a huge impact on C. S. Lewis who called him “the best and wisest of my unofficial teachers”.
His grandson, Owen A. Barfield, heads up the Owen Barfield Literary Estate which owns the copyright to all his works.
He wrote some poetry and fiction under the pseudonym G. A. L. Burgeon.
C. S. Lewis also used a pseudonym, in fact more than one. He wrote on occasion as Clive Hamilton and as N. W. Clerk.
So what are your thoughts or questions about the Inklings? Which one do you know the least? Have you read works by any of them besides Lewis and Tolkien? Who is your favorite Inkling and why? I anticipate learning a lot more about this group than I’ve known before.