January Artifact of the Month: 1977 Video of Barfield and Kilby

Continuing the celebration of our 50th Anniversary year, we are featuring a video of Clyde S. Kilby, founder of the Wade Center, and Owen Barfield recorded at Wheaton College on November 3, 1977.

The video is an edited version of the full 37-minute recording by Lord & King Associates, which is held at the Wade Center under call number: CSL-Y / VR-16.

In the video, Kilby begins by showing Barfield the Wade’s recently acquired Lewis Family Wardrobe on display in the Wade Center’s Reading Room, which at that time was housed on the 2nd floor in the Nicholas Wing of Wheaton College’s Buswell Library. Although Kilby states that the maker of the wardrobe is uncertain, it was later confirmed that this wardrobe was handmade by Richard Lewis, C.S. Lewis’s paternal grandfather sometime in the 1800s. The wardrobe stood for many years in the Lewis family home of Little Lea in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and was later transported to C.S. Lewis’s adult home, “The Kilns,” in England.  Along with Lewis’s writing desk, chair, and dining table, the wardrobe was purchased at auction in Banbury, England, on October 30, 1973 after Warren Lewis’s death.

Kilby then shows Barfield a copy of The Silver Trumpet, Barfield’s fairy tale for children that was enjoyed by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Tolkien’s children. The story rests on the fate of the Silver Trumpet, the symbol of hope and the vibrancy of life for a kingdom and its inhabitants.

After being seated by the Reading Room fireplace, Barfield and Kilby discuss Barfield’s decades long friendship with C.S. Lewis. The video concludes with a brief excerpt from the beginning of Barfield’s lecture, titled “C.S. Lewis: Truth and Imagination,” which was given later that evening in Edman Chapel on Wheaton College’s campus. Barfield’s talk, the third annual Wade Lecture, is available on sound recording at the Wade Center, call number: OB-V / SR-11.

Owen Barfield visited Wheaton College several times between 1964 and 1977, and was the only one of the seven Wade authors to come to Wheaton and see the Wade’s collection. The many interesting connections between Barfield, the Wade Center, and Wheaton College are outlined in a chronology on the Wade Center’s website. The Wade also has three Oral History interviews with Barfield recorded between 1983 and 1985.

As we begin the commemoration of our 50th year, we are delighted to share this video and the intriguing glimpse it gives into the Wade Center’s past. To watch the recording in full, or use any of the other recordings mentioned in this post, please visit our Reading Room. We would love to see you!

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