Featured Artifact: Wooden Chest and Bookshelves belonging to Charles Williams

The Wade Center owns a number of artifacts that were once in the personal possession of one of our seven authors. Our featured artifacts for this blog post are a set of bookshelves and chest from the home of Charles Williams. These handsomely carved wooden pieces can be viewed in the main hall near the museum displays as you enter the Wade.

The bookshelves stood for more than thirty years in the Williams’s flat at 23 Antrim Mansions, Belsize Park, London; they were given to the Wade Center in August 1979 by Michael Williams (son of Charles and Florence “Michal” Williams). The bookcases were originally used to hold Wade reference volumes and related office materials, but once relocated to our current building, the bookshelves were put to practical use displaying items in our sales area – which they still do to this day. The bookshelves measure 26 inches wide, 9.5 inches deep, and 41.5 inches high. We do not have any additional information on who made the shelves or how they came into the possession of the Williams family.

In January 2016, a beautiful carved wooden chest arrived at the Wade Center from England. It also originally belonged to Charles Williams, and was later passed on to his son, Michael, who used it to store various editions of his father’s books. Upon Michael’s death in 2000, the chest was given to his friend Terry Drummond and his family: wife Lynda and son Matthew, who later kindly donated it to the Wade Center.

The chest measures 14 inches wide, 20 inches high, and 3 feet long. Along with the bookshelves, it is now on display in the main hall of the Wade Center where each of these Williams artifacts can be enjoyed by our thousands of visitors.

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A sign describing the chest’s history which reads: “This carved wooden chest originally belonged to Charles Williams and was donated to the Wade Center in January 2016 by Terry, Lynda, and Matthew Drummond. Charles Williams’s son, Michael, inherited the chest after his parents’ deaths. He used it to store various editions of his father’s books as well as works by T.S. Eliot. Upon Michael Williams’s death in 2000, the chest was given to his close friends the Drummonds, for whom Michael served as an honorary grandfather to their son, Matthew.”

Revd. Drummond has graciously provided the memories below of his family’s close friendship with Michael Williams, including details on the wooden chest.

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The hallway in the Wade Center where the chest and bookshelves are displayed. The bookshelves (not visible in this photo) are near the front windows on the right.

Michael Williams (1922-2000): A Reflection on a Friendship

It was a cold March Sunday in 1976 when my wife Lynda and I first met Michael Williams. We had arrived at the closed door of the church of St. Botolph’s Aldgate, where I was joining the staff to work with the single homeless. Standing at the door was Michael, and we had a brief conversation before the doors opened.

I later discovered Michael’s anticipated impressions of us when he had heard the previous week that a Captain (that is a Church Army Captain) and Mrs Drummond were joining the staff on the following Sunday. He had thought that this would be of no concern to him; Captain Drummond would be in his mid-50s and Mrs Drummond would most likely be of a similar age and he would have little contact with either of them.

During the Eucharist he realised that the Drummonds were the same young couple he had met earlier at the door (I was 25 years of age). This was a surprise given his preconceptions.

Our next contact was on a Monday lunch time for mid-day prayers. These were led by the Lady worker, a German Jew who had escaped Hamburg with her father when the Nazis came to power. Trudie was tiny and very Germanic, her prayers included something along the lines of ‘we pray for Mr. Brown, Mrs. Brown and the baby Browns’. I looked up from my stall and caught Michael’s eyes and from that point a friendship developed.

The coming weeks and years led to a deep and close friendship. At an early stage I discovered that Michael was the son of author Charles Williams. I had read all Williams’s novels and was of course pleased to get to know his son.

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Charles Williams, 1935 (Wade Photo Collection, CW / P-3)

One Saturday we went to lunch at his flat in Belsize Park. It was at this lunch that he showed us the wooden chest (now in the Wade Center) which was filled with first editions of various of his father’s books, along with some of the works of T.S. Eliot — including signed first editions of each of the four poems eventually comprising the Four Quartets.

As our friendship deepened it became clear that Michael had no great love of the memory of his father, and could become quite angry as he recalled their relationship. He was never happy talking about him, and when for instance he met Humphrey Carpenter who was researching his book The Inklings I was present to offer support.

On other occasions visitors would come to talk about Charles. For instance Wade founder Clyde Kilby was always welcome; his relationship with Michael was a close one. Others were also welcomed though he could become irritable with those he thought were ignoring him and trying to be close to his father.

In 1978, our son Matthew was born, and from the very beginning Michael became an honorary grandfather! This may seem like an unusual designation, but it was one that Michael loved. He was also Godfather to his friend Hilary’s two boys, and in many ways our two families became his extended family.

At the beginning of our relationship, his Aunt Edith (Edith Williams, sister of Charles) was living in St. Alban’s in the family home. I visited her with Michael on one occasion and it seems that I was one of the few people who had ever seen the inside of the house. When Edith died in July 1977, Michael inherited the estate, though in those days this was not as large a sum as it would be in the years that followed when inflation increased the value of properties.

The inheritance allowed Michael to buy a flat in Bethnal Green for the now inconceivable sum of £11,000; a flat today in the same area would cost 25 times more. The flat was his home for the rest of his life; a place in which he was happy and felt that at last he could settle into a life of his own.

In the biography of Charles by Greville Lindop (Charles Williams: The Third Inkling. Oxford UP, 2015) there is a suggestion that Michael had less of a life because he lived in the shadow of his father. It is certainly true that the shadow was ever-present. It is also the case that Michael built a life of his own when he moved to Bethnal Green in East London; he made friends with a neighbour and they spent a lot of time together. The neighbour was an East Ender through and through, and had no idea about the Williams family.

Michael also developed other friendships; one of which was with my mother who lived in Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast. He would book a taxi and be driven to stay with her. It must be said that this horrified my mother who thought the cost of a taxi was far too much, especially when he could have travelled by train. I believe that for Michael the cost was not important; his friendship with my mother and her friends was what mattered. He would share evenings with them playing bingo in what is called a Working Men’s Club. The culture there was very different from the one in which he had been brought up.

Michael was a good friend and a generous one. He, like so many of us, had his demons which I believe were banished by the friendships that came later in his life. The three boys, that is the two godchildren and Matthew, and their parents were for him a new family.

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Michael Williams with his mother Florence “Michal” ca. 1967. (Wade Photo Collection: CW-F / P-8)

Whilst he had difficulties with his father, his love for his mother Michal was total. Following Michael’s death, Hilary and her husband travelled with Lynda and the three boys to take his cremated ashes to Oxford where they were buried in the grave of his parents.

Many years ago, Michael Williams donated some bookshelves to Wheaton College that had also belonged to the Williams family; I saw them on a visit I made in the 1980s to the Wade Center. The shelves were being used to hold a mix of papers; to be honest they were cluttered! The librarian asked me what ‘Mr William’s would think if he had seen the shelves being put to such daily life use’. I could only respond that ‘Mr Williams would think it was the best use they could have’! A view that was affirmed when I told him the story.

I started this remembrance with Michael’s expectation that Captain and Mrs Drummond would be nice 55-year olds who would have no effect on his life; how wrong he was! That cold March Sunday when we first met led to a friendship that lasted until his death.

Revd. Terry Drummond

Wade Collection ca. 1980s

Wade Collection ca. early-mid 1980s. The Williams bookshelves are visible in the background behind Wade staff member Evelyn Brace. Lewis’s wardrobe is on the left. (Wade History Archive Photos Collection)

The Seven Literary Sages Christian History Issue: A closer look with Jennifer Woodruff Tait

ChristianHistory_2015The “Seven Literary Sages” Christian History issue 113 was released early in 2015 in honor of the Wade Center’s 50th anniversary, features the seven authors of the Wade Center, and highlights their continuing relevance to significant issues facing our world today. We have heard from many readers how much they enjoyed the issue, including  Dr. Leland Ryken, Professor of English Emeritus at Wheaton College, who comments: “This issue of Christian History is the best brief introduction to the Wade authors that exists. Its photographs are a feast to the eyes.  The accumulated information and insights are a treasure trove.”

Jennifer Woodruff Tait, managing editor of Christian History and Wade author enthusiast, graciously offers “Off the Shelf” readers some of her reflections on the “Seven Literary Sages” issue and its significance in her own life. Our thanks also go to Jennifer for the editorial expertise and creative work she contributed to make this issue such a success.


On November 22, 2013, C.S. Lewis was formally “installed” into Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey, gaining a memorial stone there along with such luminaries of British literature as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Byron, Dickens, Austen, the Brontë sisters, T.S. Eliot, and W.H. Auden. The service was dignified; the organ thundered; the choir sang. I was there. My husband, kids, and I spent the days before the service joining fellow Lewis enthusiasts at a meeting of the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society, a tour of the Kilns (Lewis’s home, now a museum), and a symposium on Lewis’s works and worth.

On the way home, we visited Dublin, Ireland and attended the Sunday morning worship service at Trinity College. There I met a woman who became interested in our trip to the Lewis memorial. She obviously knew of Lewis’s status as a British author and had seen the movie Shadowlands. But she was puzzled by my being there on behalf of a Christian magazine. “Was Lewis particularly religious?” she asked.

And I wondered: Though Christians have valued his work for decades, how much did Lewis and his friends and mentors change the society around them? What legacy did they leave to the modern secular world?

That question was part of the reason I was in Oxford and London. I was covering the memorial celebration for issue 113 of Christian History magazine, which was dedicated to the seven authors whom the Wade Center collects. Released in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Wade Center, we called the magazine “Seven Literary Sages: Why We Still Need Their Wisdom Today.” It told the story of how those “Seven Sages” took on secularists, materialists, and modernizers with their weapon of choice: the pen.

With the assistance of the Wade we assembled a lineup of knowledgeable scholars: Suzanne Bray, Matthew Dickerson, Crystal and David Downing, Colin Duriez, Brian Horne, Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson, Alister McGrath, Michael Ward, Ralph Wood, and Edwin Woodruff Tait. They explained to our readers in fresh and entertaining ways how the Seven Sages expressed a vision for society in areas ranging from economics to education to the environment; a vision for Christian literature in their powerfully moving treatments of goodness and self-sacrifice; and a vision for discipleship in their pictures of love in community. They also emphasized how millions read their books and by those books were inspired, by the help of God’s grace, to create art, practice goodness, and seek the truth. (I am one of them: from Prince Caspian to Lord of the Rings to Gaudy Night to The Greater Trumps to Orthodoxy, the logical arguments and poetic visions of the Seven Sages have enriched my Christian discipleship for decades.) And we were able to illustrate the entire issue with a range of gorgeous photographs, many from the Wade’s own collection.

The magazine has turned out to be one of our runaway best-sellers since Christian History returned to publication by Christian History Institute in 2010. It’s by far our most popular issue judging by the number of online readers as well as requests for print copies. I’m personally thrilled to have been part of introducing so many new readers to authors who, in many cases, I have known and loved since childhood. But, not wanting to neglect others who have known and loved these authors for years as well, I commend the issue to you. Read, marvel, and enjoy!


TaitJennifer Woodruff Tait (Ph.D., Duke University) is managing editor of Christian History magazine, managing editor of the Patheos Faith and Work Channel, a candidate for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, and author of The Poisoned Chalice and Histories of Us.  From 2004-2013 she was the recording secretary for the New York C.S. Lewis Society. She lives in Richmond, KY on an 8-acre farm with her husband (who proposed to her on the bridge in London where G.K. Chesterton proposed to Frances), her two daughters (both of whom love Narnia and Middle-earth), and her in-laws.

New books for your Summer Reading List

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Summer is here! As we did last year with our summer reading ideas, we put together a few suggestions of some exciting new books for your summer reading list. This year there are an exceptional amount of new and innovative titles covering the works and lives of the Wade authors and those who knew them. For each title below, we list a summary of the book, its expected publication date, and several published titles on related subjects. We hope you find these suggestions engaging, and learn something new. Happy summer (and fall and winter) reading!


Inklings-ZaleskiTitle: The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams
Authors: Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski
Release date and Publisher: June 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Summary: A look into the lives and writings of members of the literary discussion and writing group, The Inklings. An impressive research effort with the final product just over 650 pages, this book is a great read for the invested reader who wants to look deeper into the realm of Inklings scholarship.
Other related works:
The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter
The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Pavlac Glyer


Inklings-DuriezTitle: The Oxford Inklings: Their Lives, Writings, Ideas, and Influence
Author: Colin Duriez
Release date and Publisher: March 2015 by Lion Hudson
Summary: Another contribution this year to Inklings studies, this title by British scholar Colin Duriez. This volume is shorter than the Zaleski work (less than 300 pages), and has less biographical information, focusing on the group itself and accessible for the more casual reader.
Other related works:
The Inklings Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to the Lives, Thought, and Writings of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and their Friends by Colin Duriez and David Porter
The Inklings of Oxford : C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their Friends by Harry Lee Poe, photography by James Veneman


BedeviledTitle: Bedeviled: Lewis, Tolkien and the Shadow of Evil
Author: Colin Duriez
Release date and Publisher: April 2015 by InterVarsity Press
Summary: Duriez explores how C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and other Inklings identified modern warfare as a powerful image of the deeper battle between good and evil. He also considers the ways in which their own experiences in war shaped their writings.
Other related works:
Author talk of Duriez at the Wade Center from April 30, 2015
Tolkien and The Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth by John Garth
A Morning after War: C.S. Lewis and WWI by K.J. Gilchrist


CSL-poemsTitle: The Collected Poems of C. S. Lewis: A Critical Edition
Author: C.S. Lewis, ed. Don W. King
Release date and Publisher: January 2015 by Kent State University Press
Summary: A new collection of Lewis’s poetry, including many previously unpublished poems, together in a single volume. Includes indices of titles and first lines.
Other related works:
C. S. Lewis, Poet: The Legacy of His Poetic Impulse by Don W. King
– “‘Making the Poor Best of Dull Things’: C.S. Lewis as Poet”
by Don W. King in VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review Volume 12 (see also: volumes 22, 23, 29 for other articles by Don W. King)


a-naked-treeTitle: A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C.S. Lewis and Other Poems
Author: Joy Davidman, ed. Don W. King
Release date and Publisher: May 2015 by Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Summary: A collection of poetry by C.S. Lewis’s wife, Joy Davidman, published for the first time. These poems come from the Joy Davidman Papers archival collection at the Wade Center. The Wade also owns all of the books authored by Davidman.
Other related works:
Out of My Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman ed. by Don W. King
– “Fire and Ice: C.S. Lewis and the Love Poetry of Joy Davidman and Ruth Pitter”
by Don W. King in VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review Volume 22 (see also: volumes 12, 23, 29 for other articles by Don W. King)


JoyTitle: Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis
Author: Abigail Santamaria
Release date and Publisher: August 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Summary: An in-depth, critical biography of the life of Joy Davidman Gresham Lewis. Santamaria has spent over a decade conducting comprehensive research on Joy, and this book will be a sizable contribution to the realms of both Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis scholarship.
Other related works:
A Love Observed: Joy Davidman’s Life & Marriage to C.S. Lewis by Lyle W. Dorsett


Lindop-editedTitle: Charles Williams: The Third Inkling
Author: Grevel Lindop
Release date and Publisher: December 2015 by Oxford University Press
Summary: Another in-depth biography, this one on the life of Charles Williams. Lindop has spent many years tracing biographical sources and this will be an indispensable volume for those wanting to understand the life of Charles Williams.
Other related works:
Charles Williams: An Exploration of His Life and Work by Alice Mary Hadfield
An Introduction to Charles Williams by Alice Mary Hadfield
To Michal from Serge: Letters from Charles Williams to His Wife, Florence, 1939-1945


PilgrimsRegressFinally, for another good summer read, if you haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the Wade Annotated Edition of C.S. Lewis’s Pilgrim’s Regress edited by David C. Downing, now is the perfect time!

New Museum Display — Charles Williams and Victor Gollancz: The Story of a Publishing Team

Announcing a new display installed in the Wade Center’s museum in May, featuring correspondence between Charles Williams and his publisher Victor Gollancz: “Charles Williams and Victor Gollancz: The Story of a Publishing Team.” This is the second post this month on Charles Williams, in memory of the 70th anniversary of his death on May 15, 1945.

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The letters in the display come from a collection of correspondence deposited at the Wade Center by Brian and Sally Oxley.  The Wade Center is grateful to the Oxleys for these unique materials, and the story they share relating the publication history of Williams’s works. The full letter collection on deposit is listed in the Charles Williams Papers finding aid, folders 492 to 498. Wade Center visitors may view these and other collections in the Reading Room.

Victor Gollancz and his namesake publishing house became one of the most successful publishers in Britain from its founding in 1928 until the sale of the company by Gollancz’s daughter Livia in 1989 to Houghton Mifflin. Charles Williams, who became a friend of Victor Gollancz, published five of his seven novels with the publisher, and also edited the The New Book of English Verse, a collection of poetry, for Gollancz:

  • War in Heaven. London: Victor Gollancz, 1930
  • Many Dimensions. London: Victor Gollancz, 1931
  • The Place of the Lion. London: Mundanus, V. Gollancz, 1931
  • The Greater Trumps. London: Victor Gollancz, 1932
  • Shadows of Ecstasy. London: Victor Gollancz, 1933
  • The New Book of English Verse. ed. Charles Williams. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1935

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This collection of letters gives an intriguing look into Williams’s relationship with Gollancz, and offers background into their collaborative efforts to bring Williams’s work to print. In one instance, Gollancz comments that the name for one of Williams’s manuscripts, The Corpse, must be changed: “Anyone … would immediately think it to be a detective story: and this would have the double disadvantage of limiting the market on the one hand and of deceiving the purchaser on the other.” (Gollancz to Williams, March 19, 1930). The novel was later renamed War in Heaven.

In another anecdote, a displeased school master writes to the publisher about a “mass of misprints” in The New Book of English Verse. Yet when pressed, the school master could only produce a list of three typos. Norman Collins, an associate at Gollancz who would go on to become a famous BBC program creator, writes a note to Williams on March 10, 1936 saying: “it seems really contemptible that a man should complain of three misprints … in a book of over 800 pages. I would propose writing back in a more or less abrupt fashion.” Letters and various documents relating to each work Williams published with Gollancz (in the list above) are highlighted in the display, including a publishing contract for Many Dimensions, a letter from Williams’s wife (Florence ‘Michal’ Williams) to Gollancz, and copies of the books themselves.

Our sincere thanks go to Wade Student Worker and Archives Assistant, Basye Peek for her work in organizing the letters to make the collection available for researchers, as well as the letter selection, design, and caption writing for this display. Basye just completed her freshman year as an anthropology major at Wheaton College; she began working at the Wade Center in the fall of 2014. Thank you, Basye!

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Basye Peek at work in the Wade Center Reading Room with one of the Charles Williams letters. Basye was the main designer for the display “Charles Williams and Victor Gollancz: The Story of a Publishing Team.”

May Artifact of the Month: Charles Williams’s Honorary Master’s Degree

Museum display at the Wade Center featuring Charles Williams's honorary Masters of Arts degree from Oxford University, and the mortar board he wore during the ceremony.

Museum display at the Wade Center featuring Charles Williams’s honorary Master of Arts degree from Oxford University, and the mortar board he wore during the ceremony.

With graduation season beginning, we thought it appropriate to highlight the honorary Master of Arts degree Charles Williams received from Oxford University on February 27, 1943 as our May “Artifact of the Month.” This post also celebrates a full year of “Artifact of the Month” blogs on “Off the Shelf!” After this point we will continue to highlight materials from the Wade Center as “Featured Artifacts,” but not on a monthly basis. Keep reading “Off the Shelf” for more artifacts to come!

Charles Williams began his college career by being awarded a scholarship to University College, London where he studied mathematics, literature, history, and languages  (Hadfield, Alice Mary. Charles Williams: An Exploration Of His Life And Work. New York : Oxford UP, 1983. p. 11). Despite his promise as a student, the Williams family could not afford Charles’s college tuition and he had to withdraw after two years. He was never able to return and complete his degree, though he went on to become an editor at Oxford University Press in London.

At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Charles Williams and his colleagues at Oxford University Press relocated their offices from London to Oxford due to bombing by the German Luftwaffe. This move enabled Williams to spend more time with C.S. Lewis and the rest of the Inklings, the group which he had already been attending when he was able to make the journey from London to Oxford. Lewis had first invited Williams to join the Inklings in 1936 after reading his novel The Place of the Lion, and became a fast friend and admirer of his work. Knowing of Williams’s lectures at the City Literary Institute in London, his prodigious intellect, and his passion for literature in general, C.S. Lewis arranged for Williams to give guest lectures at Oxford University. He began with a series of lectures on Milton, which greatly impressed Lewis and captivated his audience.

On Monday C.W. [Charles Williams] lectured nominally on Comus but really on Chastity. Simply as criticism it was superb — because here was a man who really started from the same point of view as Milton and really cared with every fibre of his being about “the sage and serious doctrine of virginity” which it would never occur to the ordinary modern critic to take seriously. But it was more important still as a sermon. It was a beautiful sight to see a whole room full of modern young men and women sitting in that absolute silence which can not be faked, very puzzled, but spell-bound … It was “borne in upon me” that that beautiful carved room had probably not witnessed anything so important since some of the great medieval or Reformation lectures. I have at last, if only for once, seen a university doing what it was founded to do: teaching Wisdom.

–C.S. Lewis in a letter to his brother Warren H. Lewis, February 11, 1940

Williams’s involvement at Oxford evolved to later include tutoring as well as giving additional lecture series on Wordsworth, Shakespeare, 18th Century poetry, the Arthurian tradition, and other literary topics. In 1943, Oxford University acknowledged Williams’s contributions to literature and the University by giving him an honorary Master of Arts degree, shown here.

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Honorary Master of Arts degree, written in Latin, for “Carolum” Williams, dated February 27, 1943.

Williams, delighted by the honor, wrote in a letter to his wife:

I broke the news to [Anne Spalding and Gerry Hopkins, nephew of Gerard Manly Hopkins and fellow colleague of Williams at Oxford UP] — about the degree, I mean. … This morning Ursula [Grundy] rang up to congratulate me, having heard from Michael [Williams’s son]. She says M. is very pleased … so I owe him my thanks. I do like him to show well. She wants to come, “if it’s convenient.” (I thought she would!) G.H. thinks anyone can go, but are supposed to be under the convoy of “a member of this University,” but he has put himself at your disposal, & anyone you bring.

–Letter to Florence (“Michal”) Williams, February 12, 1943. The letters between Charles and Michal Williams are located in the Charles Williams Papers collection at the Wade Center, and in the book To Michal From Serge: Letters From Charles Williams To His Wife, Florence, 1939-1945. Kent, OH : Kent State University Press, 2002.

Three others were given M.A. degrees at the same ceremony: Reginald John Shambrook, Alberto Jiménez, and Captain Lord William Romilly. Mr. John G. Barrington-Ward, Public Orator’s deputy, gave brief speeches of presentation for each of the degree recipients, which like the degrees themselves were also written entirely in Latin. A leaflet, with the text from the speeches, is shown below from the Wade Center’s Article File collection. Our thanks to Dr. Leslie S.B. MacCoull of the Society for Coptic Archaeology (North America) for offering the following translation of the speech on Williams:

There follows a most keen critic of literature, yet also a talented poet, in whom indeed we see refuted what has often been customarily said, “those who could not turn out to be poets always settle for critical studies.” But rather this man, our outstanding poet, “who did not turn pale with fear to drink from the Pindaric fountain” [Horace, Epistles 1.3.10], even in that admittedly difficult Pindaric form has already garnered so many outstanding laurel crowns, and has been observed to form such serious judgments about literary works and authors, that, called by our staff members to undertake the function of a sponsor, he filled that role for them so that, if anyone had written anything, he read it all through, carefully weighed it in the balance, and finally made a judgment of it as to whether it would be worthy of the staff members’ smoothing pumice-stone or should rather be consigned to the waste-paper pile. And now in our schools how gladly have we recently listened to him expounding in public on the English poets! With what keenness of mind he spoke, with what fervor of spirit he recited! Therefore, so that this outstanding craftsman and judge of literature may be added to our ranks and may add our laurel crown also to those he has already borne, I present to you the most learned man Charles Walter Stansby Williams,  editor and proofreader of the Oxford Press, to be admitted to the degree of Master of Arts _honoris causa_.

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Leaflet containing the Latin speeches of presentation for the degree recipients, by John G. Barrington-Ward. From the Wade Center’s Article File: February 27, 1943, cw-MISC section. Click the image for a larger view.

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Page 2 of the Latin speech leaflet. Click the image for a larger view.

Williams sent details about the upcoming ceremony to his wife via a series of letters, and the event took place in Oxford’s famous Sheldonian Theatre. At the official lunch that day, Charles and Florence (“Michal”) Williams sat between the Vice-Chancellor and Mr. L.S. Amery (Secretary for the State of India, and another degree recipient). Several of Williams’s friends got together at a separate lunch to celebrate the occasion, including the Douglases, Ursula Grundy, and Gerry Hopkins. Two articles reporting the ceremony follow below, as well as an image of the procession with participants in full academic dress, and an image of the Oxford M.A. academic gown. Click on the images for a larger view.

Williams remained in high demand at Oxford University, and with other scholarly groups and clubs such as the Dante Society, until the event of his untimely death in May 1945. His style, since he was not formally university educated, was seen as fresh and different from the other academic lecturers of the time, and as Lewis noted above, the quality of his criticism was brilliant. He had a large following and his talks were well-attended. Surely it was gratifying for Williams to be acknowledged by the academy in such an official capacity before the end of his career.

The procession for the awards ceremony, with participants in full academic dress. Williams is thought to be in the middle with his face obscured, making identification difficult.

The procession for the awards ceremony, with participants in full academic dress. Williams is thought to be in the middle with his face obscured, making identification difficult.

This is what the Oxford University Master of Arts robe and hood looks like, along with an illustration of how it is worn and a description below from the book: Venables, D. R. and Clifford, R. E. Academic Dress: Of The University Of Oxford. Oxford : Thomas-Photos, 1985. The Wade Center owns both the robes and hoods of Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis. The robe featured in this display belonged to Lewis.

This is what the Oxford University Master of Arts robe and hood looks like, along with an illustration of how it is worn and a description below from the book: Venables, D. R. and Clifford, R. E. Academic Dress: Of The University Of Oxford. Oxford : Thomas-Photos, 1985. The Wade Center owns both the robes and hoods of Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis. The robe featured in this display belonged to Lewis.

Article on the upcoming ceremony from the Oxford Mail, February 18, 1943.

Article on the upcoming ceremony from the Oxford Mail, February 18, 1943. Click the image for a larger view.

Article on the award ceremony from The [London] Times, March 1, 1943.

Article on the award ceremony from The [London] Times, March 1, 1943. Click the image for a larger view.

Introducing VII Volume 31

“Where do dragons come from? The origin of myths is We must answer that we do not know.”

These lines, handwritten in one of C.S. Lewis’s notebooks, are, to author and Lewis scholar Dr. Charlie Starr, one more piece in the puzzle of how Lewis grew from a young atheist into one of the twentieth century’s most articulate and ardent apologists for the Christian faith. These lines and their larger context form one of two manuscript fragments Starr has transcribed from this particular notebook of Lewis’s, a complete copy of which is held at the Wade Center. The fragments have been published for the first time in the most recent volume (31) of the Wade Center’s journal VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review. For several years in a row, VII has been privileged to bring a number of previously unpublished pieces of Lewis’s writing into publication through the hard work of scholars who have discovered them among Lewis’s papers held at the Wade Center and painstakingly transcribed and analyzed their contents.

VII volume 31

VII Volume 31

But unlike the 30th anniversary volume of VII (2013), which featured mostly articles on C.S. Lewis in commemoration of the 50th anniversary year of his death, Volume 31 has a more comprehensive range, featuring articles on five of the seven Wade authors: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.

Charles Williams in 1935. Image not to be used without permission of the Wade Center.

Charles Williams in 1935. Image not to be used without permission of the Wade Center.

Here we are pleased to offer a brief excerpt from the article “ ‘It Can be Done, You Know’: The Shape, Sources, and Seriousness of Charles Williams’s Doctrine of Substituted Love,” written by Andrew C. Stout. We find that visitors to the Wade and readers of VII are often less familiar with Charles Williams than with the other Wade authors, in spite of his acuity as a novelist and his influence on and friendship with C.S. Lewis. We are pleased to publish scholarship on Williams in VII, in hopes that it will direct more readers to the rich literature this Inkling produced. May the following excerpt from Volume 31 whet your appetite!

“ ‘I am serious about the novel—a new strange fantasy in a new style’ (qtd. in Hadfield 142). So Charles Williams commented in a letter to a friend while writing Descent into Hell. One might wonder if Williams would excuse those readers who do not take him completely seriously in their first reading of the novel. Considered by most to be the best executed of his seven novels, Descent into Hell includes at least one of his strangest ideas—that of ‘substituted love’. . . .

“Descent into Hell tells the story of the inhabitants of Battle Hill, a fictional London suburb. The first person we are introduced to is Peter Stanhope, a successful playwright. Stanhope meets Pauline Anstruther . . . at a meeting of the community’s dramatic society. . . . A sense of fear and dread hangs around Pauline from her introduction, and we soon learn the source of her anxiety—her increasingly frequent encounters with an exact image of herself, a doppelganger. As Stanhope and Pauline’s acquaintance deepens, she finds herself expressing her fear to him.

“After learning of the constant state of dread in which Pauline lives, Stanhope asks why she has not asked a friend to ‘carry her fear.’ Pauline initially dismisses Stanhope’s odd suggestion as a misunderstanding, but he presses her. . . .

“As Stanhope extends his offer and makes his meaning plain, Pauline begins to realize just how serious he is about the proposal. ‘She looked at him as if she were beginning to understand that at any rate he thought he was talking about a reality . . .” (97; emphasis mine). Along with Pauline, we begin to see just how serious Stanhope is about his unusual suggestion. His offer to take up her burden of fear has nothing of the metaphorical about it, but is rather spoken of as a real exchange that could take place between the two of them.”

Works Cited:

Hadfield, Alice Mary. Charles Williams: An Exploration of His Life and Work. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Williams, Charles. Descent into Hell. A Charles Williams Reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000. 3-222.

Please visit the VII website for more information about this volume, and note that VII is available for purchase online for the first time!

Rates:

Individual (bought at Wade Center): $14.00 (plus tax)
Individual (shipped in U.S.): $18.00
Individual (shipped International): $29.00
Libraries (U.S.): $35
Libraries (International): $50

Need Summer Reading Ideas?

Reading in the Wade’s English garden.

Visitors to the Wade Center often ask: “Where do I start if I want to read books by the Wade authors?” This post will hopefully help in beginning to answer that question, and also give you some ideas to add to your summer reading list. Our seven authors wrote in a variety of genres, but the focus of this list will be on works of fiction. If you want to see lists of other books our authors wrote, the names below link to bibliographies available via the Wade’s website, so check those out too.

OB-SilverTrumpet

THE SILVER TRUMPET by Owen Barfield

Owen Barfield: The Silver Trumpet

A fairy tale for children enjoyed by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Tolkien’s own children. Lewis recounts in a letter to Barfield dated June 28, 1936 that the Tolkien children liked the story so much they were reluctant to return the book to Mr. Lewis, who had lent it to them. 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.

 

Father Brown: The Essential Tales by G.K. Chesterton

FATHER BROWN: THE ESSENTIAL TALES by G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton: The Father Brown Stories

Chesterton’s detection short stories featuring sleuth (and Catholic priest) Father Brown are hailed as classics in detective fiction, and have been adapted into several television productions over the years. They appeared in five original volumes, the first of which is The Innocence of Father Brown, and are available today in various editions. Father Brown: The Essential Tales is a good overview volume to start with to get a taste of the tales. If you are a reader of mystery stories (or even if you are not!), you need to meet Father Brown.

 

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

TILL WE HAVE FACES by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis: Till We Have Faces

Did you know Lewis wrote other works of fiction besides The Chronicles of Narnia? Lewis considered this novel one of his finest books, and wrote it in collaboration with his wife, Joy Davidman. It is a dramatic re-telling of the Greek myth “Cupid and Psyche,” and explores the nature of love in human relationships. If you are looking for a thought-provoking and rewarding read, this is your book.

 

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN by George MacDonald

George MacDonald: The Princess and the Goblin

George MacDonald wrote many fairy tales for children, and this is one of his most well-known and loved. This novel-length tale features Princess Irene, Curdie the miner’s son, and their fight to protect the kingdom from some wicked goblins. The book was a particular favorite of G.K. Chesterton and stands as a classic in the fairy tale tradition.

 

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

GAUDY NIGHT by Dorothy L. Sayers

Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night

Sayers is one of two Wade authors who wrote detective fiction (the other being G.K. Chesterton), and she also made a name for herself in the craft with twelve detection novels featuring her aristocratic detective, Lord Peter Wimsey. In Gaudy Night (book 11 of the Wimsey books, and book 3 of the 4 books featuring Harriet Vane), Harriet returns to her Oxford college to help solve a series of unfortunate events. This book has love, crime, and academia all in one volume.

Want more detective fiction resources? Audio recordings from an earlier detection book group at the Wade Center are available on our website.

 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit

Tolkien’s classic tale for children and adults alike, and a wonderful introduction to his world of Middle-earth. The prelude to The Lord of the Rings in which Bilbo the hobbit, a band of dwarves, and Gandalf the wizard set off to recapture stolen treasure from Smaug the dragon. Even if you have read this book before, why not get a refresher read in before the third and final Hobbit film comes out in December 2014?

 

The Place of the Lion by Charles Williams

THE PLACE OF THE LION by Charles Williams

Charles Williams: The Place of the Lion

One of Williams’s seven novels described as “supernatural thrillers” by T.S. Eliot. In this story archetypes are embodied as gigantic animals roaming the earth, such as the Lion of Strength and the Butterfly of Beauty. Their interactions in the world cause havoc, but also produce engaging insights into the hearts of the humans they encounter. This book was highly admired by C.S. Lewis when he first read it in February 1936, and helped start the friendship between Lewis and Williams.

Remember, these books (and all the others the Wade authors wrote) are available for reading at the Wade Center in the beautiful surroundings of the Kilby Reading Room. Is there a particular edition you are looking for? There is a good chance we have it. Let us know, and we will be happy to pull it for you. Stop by and visit us this summer, either in person or via our online resources.

Happy reading!