Memories from the Wade Center’s 50th Anniversary

Wade Center's 50th Anniversary Program

The program for the 50th Anniversary of the Marion E. Wade Center and dedication of the Bakke Auditorium, October 29, 2015.

Last year marked an important milestone as the Marion E. Wade Center celebrated its 50th anniversary and completed construction of the Bakke Auditorium. 2015 provided a unique opportunity to look back on memories from the past 50 years, celebrate current achievements, and look ahead to future goals as we continue the Wade Center’s legacy of promoting engagement with the works of our seven authors.

As the 50th anniversary itself now becomes part of the Wade Center’s history, we wanted to share some memories made during that time as friends both old and new came to celebrate the event with us.  Our 50th anniversary website has been updated to include videos and documents from the October 29th program, and we are also pleased to share on our website a selection of photos taken during the event. Photos are courtesy of Maas Photography.

Program participants

Program participants (l to r): G. Walter Hansen, Philip G. Ryken, Lisa Welchert, Lyle W. Dorsett, Marjorie Lamp Mead, Jerry Root, Luci Shaw, Jeannette Bakke, Carolyn Hart, Stan Bakke, William Phemister.

Leading up to the October 29th event the Wade Center sent out a request for shared  memories and reflections of our past 50 years and the influence of our authors. The responses received were numerous, and came from around the world. We have, with the gracious consent of the contributors, posted selections from these tributes on our website to serve as testament to the lives touched already, and as an encouragement as we anticipate the future stories yet untold.

We are thankful for all those who have joined us along the way, and look forward to  continuing the journey with you.

Wade Center front door

The Wade Center on the evening of the 50th Anniversary program, October 29, 2015.

50th Anniversary Celebration Videos

We are pleased to share these two videos, the event program, and a commemorative poem from the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Marion E. Wade Center, and the dedication of the Bakke Auditorium, which took place on October 29, 2015. We enjoyed marking this milestone event with many friends of the Wade Center, and are glad we can provide these items here to all who were not able to join us in person for the program – or those who would like to see them again. Enjoy.

Program with Speaker Biographies

“The Space Inside” original poem by Luci Shaw

Video of the event:

 

Commemorative video shown during the event:

The 50th Anniversary of the Marion E. Wade Center

50th Logo_edited

Today is a special day. The Marion E. Wade Center celebrates its 50th anniversary (1965-2015), and the dedication of the Bakke Auditorium. You can watch the event live at 7pm Central Time via WETN (online or via mobile device). If you are in the Wheaton area, the local cable stations below will also be broadcasting the event:

  • Wheaton channel 72
  • West Chicago channel 10
  • Warrenville and Winfield channel 17
  • Channel 4.1 on Wheaton College campus televisions

We hope you can join us! A recording of the presentation will be made available online as soon as possible following the event.

And please also sign the Wade Center’s 50th Anniversary Guestbook. We would love to hear from you, and this is a great way to celebrate with us.  Thank you to all who have supported the work of the Wade Center over our past 50 years. We are very grateful for you.

March Artifact of the Month: Correspondence between Clyde Kilby, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien

Today the Wade Center holds an abundance of resources, but the collection’s beginnings were modest and its future acquisitions rested on some key connections established by founder Clyde S. Kilby. Two of these relationships were with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The correspondence they shared with Kilby remains at the heart of the Wade Center’s materials and represents some of our earliest accessions. The March “Artifact of the Month” highlights these two letter collections, and continues the celebration of the Wade’s 50th Anniversary year with a look back at these remarkable documents and the relationships they illustrate.

KILBY AND LEWIS

Clyde S. Kilby first encountered the work of C.S. Lewis around 1943 in a book titled The Case for Christianity, which contained content from some of Lewis’s BBC Radio talks later brought together under the title Mere Christianity in 1952. Kilby reflects in his personal history of the Wade Center on that first reading: “I bought the book and read it right through feeling almost from the first sentence that something profound had touched my mind and heart.” After reading more books by Lewis and becoming greatly interested in them, Kilby decided to write to Lewis on December 17, 1952 asking if he could schedule a visit with him during his upcoming trip to England in the summer of 1953. Lewis accepted Kilby’s request, and they met at Lewis’s rooms in Magdalen College, Oxford on July 1, 1953.

Envelope from Lewis to Kilby, sent February 11, 1957.

The memorable visit with Lewis is recalled by Dr. Kilby in Wheaton College’s Kodon magazine (December 1953, Vol. VIII, pp. 11, 28, 30). They discussed sixteenth-century literature, the Renaissance, and the relation of Christianity and art, which was, in Kilby’s words: “one of the main questions I wished to ask Mr. Lewis.” When asked if Lewis had any plans to visit America, he said he had no intention of doing so until his retirement (Lewis never did visit the United States). Kilby summarizes his time with Lewis at the end of the article by saying: “in all his talk there is an incipient good humor and genuineness that makes a conversation with him a real pleasure.” (28, 30)

Kilby continued his conversation with Lewis through a series of letters between 1953 and 1962. These fourteen letters, and Kilby’s article, are available for viewing in the Wade Center Reading Room; they include a discussion, amongst other topics, of Lewis’s book Till We Have Faces; scripture; recommendations of reading material; and news of Joy’s health, Lewis’s wife who was battling cancer. One memorable quote from Lewis’s February 10, 1957 letter to Kilby begins:

Dear Professor Kilby — An author doesn’t necessarily understand the meaning of his own story better than anyone else, so I give you my account of TWHF [Till We Have Faces] simply “for what it’s worth.” …

Intrigued yet? Visit the Wade Center to read more, or find the letter in volume 3 of The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis edited by Walter Hooper.

Following Lewis’s death in 1963, Kilby maintained a lively correspondence and friendship with Warren H. Lewis, C.S. Lewis’s brother, which lasted until Warren’s death in 1973. Warren willed a variety of materials to the Wade Center, including his own personal diaries, excerpts from which were later edited and published by Clyde S. Kilby and Marjorie Lamp Mead in the book Brothers and Friends.

KILBY AND TOLKIEN

Clyde Kilby’s first visit with Tolkien was late in the afternoon of September 1, 1964, on one of his many trips to England from 1953 to 1979. Kilby had read, and duly admired, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and was keen to try and meet its author. After receiving encouragement from Dr. Robert E. Havard, Tolkien’s personal physician and fellow member of the Inklings, Kilby walked up to Tolkien’s front door and received a warm and cordial greeting. They shared two enjoyable visits in 1964 before Kilby’s return to the United States.

Envelope from Tolkien to Kilby, sent December 3, 1967.

After this first meeting, a correspondence between the two professors began, with the first letter from Tolkien written on November 11, 1964, and the last written on March 8, 1973. The Wade Center has fourteen letters from Tolkien to Kilby, only a few of which have been partially published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien.

The correspondence covers a wide range of topics, including notes on Tolkien’s work; comments on Tolkien’s The Smith of Wootton Major manuscript; discussion on the health of Edith Tolkien, Tolkien’s wife; and one of the most exciting events of Kilby’s friendship with Tolkien: a visit in the summer of 1966 to assist in the writing of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. Tolkien had worked for years on the content of what later became The Silmarillion, and Tolkien enthusiasts, including Kilby, eagerly anticipated its publication. The work required to get it into a publishable form was substantial, however, and Kilby knew of the difficulty of the task. In a letter dated November 19, 1965, Kilby wrote to Tolkien to offer him any assistance he could provide in helping to prepare The Silmarillion for publication. Among his applicable skills he states that he is “1) a good typist, 2) a bit of a literary critic … 3) an enthusiast for your writings.” Tolkien responds on December 18, 1965:

TOLKIEN AND THE SILMARILLION by Clyde S. Kilby. Wheaton, IL: Shaw, 1976.

TOLKIEN AND THE SILMARILLION by Clyde S. Kilby. Wheaton, IL: Shaw, 1976.

I was deeply touched by [your letter], indeed overwhelmed by your generosity in offering to sacrifice your precious time (and holiday) in helping me. … [Y]our offer under heads 2) and 3) are extremely attractive. … If I had the assistance of a scholar at once sympathetic and yet critical, such as yourself, I feel I might make some of it publishable.  It needs the actual presence of a friend and adviser at one’s side, which is just what you offer.

The experience with Tolkien over the summer of 1966 is recorded in Kilby’s book: Tolkien and the Silmarillion, which is available along with the Tolkien and Kilby letters in the Wade Center Reading Room. The Silmarillion was published in 1977 by Christopher Tolkien after his father’s death. The third chapter of Kilby’s book was removed before publication at Christopher’s request to avoid revealing too much of the subject matter from the then unpublished Silmarillion. Kilby had also made some factual errors in the chapter given that his source material was based on his memory of oral communication with Tolkien. The third chapter has since been published in its entirety in volume 19 (2002) of VII, the Wade Center’s journal.

These letter exchanges give a unique view into the early days of the Wade Center and the important personal connections established with the authors (and their family and friends) now collected, studied, and celebrated here. They are a wonderful reminder of the past as we look into the future. Come read and enjoy them yourself!

Celebrating 50 Years of the Wade Center: 1965-2015

The Seven Wade Authors

Happy New Year to all! This is an especially exciting year at the Marion E. Wade Center as we are celebrating our 50th Anniversary.

The story of the Wade began with Wheaton College English professor Clyde S. Kilby. Greatly impacted by the books of C.S. Lewis, Kilby began a correspondence with Lewis in the 1950s. Following Lewis’s death in 1963, Kilby was inspired to begin “The C.S. Lewis Collection,” a repository that eventually would include not only Lewis items, but also materials from six other like-minded British writers. Kilby’s proposal for the collection was accepted by the Wheaton College Library Committee in 1965, and thus began our now 50 years of history filled with wonderful relationships, life-changing literature, and pivotal acquisitions. All of these have helped form the world-class research collection—along with a museum and various educational endeavors such as publications and programming—that the Wade has become today.

Clyde S. Kilby, founder of the Wade Center

Clyde S. Kilby, founder of the Wade Center

Over 50 years, the Wade Center has moved house a number of times between Wheaton College’s Buswell Library, the English Department in Blanchard Hall, and then into our current facility in 2001. In 1974, friends and family members of Christian businessman and C.S. Lewis enthusiast Marion E. Wade began an endowment following Mr. Wade’s death in 1973. The Lewis Collection was then renamed “The Marion E. Wade Collection,” and the name changed officially to “The Marion E. Wade Center” in 1987 to reflect our broader purpose.

Wade Center Reading Room in Buswell Library. You can see the Lewis Family Wardrobe, and off to the right, C.S. Lewis's dining room table.

Wade Center Reading Room in Buswell Library, ca. 1975. You can see the Lewis Family Wardrobe, and off to the right, C.S. Lewis’s dining room table — then serving as a as a table for researchers (it can now be viewed in the Wade Center’s museum).

Our annual journal, VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review, started in 1980 under the guidance of Barbara Reynolds of Cambridge, England, Clyde S. Kilby, founder of the Wade Center, and Beatrice Batson, at that time Chair of the Wheaton College English Department. The journal has just released its 31st volume, and continues to produce in-depth and lively discussion on the seven Wade authors through peer reviewed articles, news and events, and book reviews.

To date, the Wade Center has had three Directors: Clyde S. Kilby, Lyle W. Dorsett, and Christopher W. Mitchell. Associate Director Marjorie Lamp Mead has been here supporting all three directors, and continues to serve at the Wade Center today along with the rest of the Wade’s dedicated staff members. We look forward to continuing the legacy of helping others to enjoy and benefit from the writings and thoughts of our seven authors by building relationships, offering programming and educational opportunities featuring the lives and works of our authors, and supporting research and scholarship on these seven significant writers.

Anniversary Year Items of Note:

  • Construction on the Wade’s 100-seat auditorium has begun! Work started on December 15th, and the Bakke Auditorium is expected to be complete by the fall of 2015. Construction photos available on our Facebook page.
  • Watch for a display commemorating the 50 years of the Marion E. Wade Center in the Wade’s Museum.
  • A special issue of Christian History magazine to be published in 2015 on the seven Wade authors.
  • We have some exciting events planned as well. Stay tuned to this blog, and the Wade’s website and Facebook page for upcoming notifications of these events! Please contact us if you would like to be added to our email list.
Dr. Jill Peláez Baumgaertner

Dr. Jill Peláez Baumgaertner

We leave our readers with a poem by Dr. Jill Peláez Baumgaertner, Professor of English and Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies at Wheaton College. The poem was commissioned by the Wade Center in celebration of the opening of its new building in 2001, and was written while Dr. Baumgaertner was at Oxford with the Wheaton in England program in the summer of 2001. She reflects on the poem’s composition:

The poem begins with one of my earliest memories: my grandmother teaching me to read at age 3. I was asked to write a poem about a building holding the collections of the Inklings, but the poem was about much more than a building or the Inklings. It was about the experience of reading through the years—eventually tied intimately to the Wade Center in its early sites and later in the elegant home of its current housing. Then I reached forward, Whitmanesque, imagining the Wade Center in the future—maybe one hundred years from now. All of this because literature is timeless, and we are made custodians of all that is precious in written language.

The poem appeared in Dr. Baugaertner’s recently published book: What Cannot Be Fixed (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2014), and she has graciously allowed it to appear here as a wonderful reflection back on the Wade’s history and legacy, and as an appropriate look ahead to our 50th anniversary year and beyond.

Where Words Regain Their Meaning

 I.

Florida: 1951

The child you once were
sits on the porch swing in the heat
weighted with summer rain.
Grandmother points to each word.
You repeat, “Good morning, Baby.
Good morning, Baby Ray.”
And the longing is unlatched,
the hunger for words that transcend
the world locked into the safety
of Mother’s lunches,
of Father’s Saturday mornings,
of Grandmother’s books stacked
beneath her bed or behind glass doors.

Behind the barriers of ciphers
marching across a page the mysteries
are revealed with your first mouthing
of consonants crisped by unfamiliarity
and vowels forcing the syllables
into language which becomes more than speech.
This is your first transcendence.

 II.

Buswell Library: 1995

Books from the Wade's collections.

Books from the Wade’s collections.

The pleasant mustiness of old books,
the stiffened bindings of the new
and the smell of ink, paper, glue,
and you have found your way again.
The college stacks, the secluded
carrels, the whisper-squeak
of the librarian’s cart.

Up the back stairs into the room
called Kilby, quiet with the hush
of study, the scratch of pen, the click
of laptop keys, a muffled rattle of ideas.

This is the place where words regain
their meaning, the books —Tolkien,
Chesterton — packed in like bricks —
Sayers, Lewis, MacDonald —
and parked on tabletops — Barfield,
Williams. Occasionally, a spray
of dust-moted sun
and through the windows a glimpse
of the unwritten world outside these words.

You have missed entire seasons
inside such spaces (the ripening of summer,
the blazing of fall), besotted with words,
breaking print into patterns,
tracing images, wrestling language
amidst the undiscipline of marginalia
in rooms like this filled with the whisperings
of words, not words that fall back inside
themselves like ice on a thawing pond,
but words that disperse to fill a space,
like breath that weaves the pliant silence
into the warp and woof of music.

 III.

The Wade Center: 2001-2101

The Marion E. Wade Center, September 2001

The Marion E. Wade Center, September 2001

After the months of cement-pouring,
the raising of walls, the bracing
of floors with book-supporting trusses.
After the roofers carefully treading
the sloped surfaces. After the sawdust,
the construction trailers parked behind Edman
in the snow, the temporary front door,
the chimney pots on order, the blueprints
spread on saw-horsed plywood,
the staircases without railings.
After the packing and unpacking of files,
the book boxes stacked six feet high,
the paths between them like a garden maze,
we wander new spaces, pristine,
not yet redolent of concentrated reading,
not yet filled with the rustled silence
of scholars, the children’s corner a mere outline,
Aslan’s portrait leaning against a wall,
Lewis’s bust stashed in a safe corner.

You who follow, you yet unborn,
you will know these spaces for the first time,
too. You will grow familiar, as will we,
with the patterns formed by sunlight
through this glass, with the heft
of the door, with books now older,
their pages brittled by the years.

Think back on us, the new millennium
handed to us like an unproofed book.
You will supply it with words as yet unfleshed,
correcting what we discerned
as mere glimmers and flashes.

Yet you, too, will have your blindnesses.
That “chaos of stark bewilderment” Sayers
saw one Ash Wednesday in the middle
of a century of bones, you will know, too.

Wade Center garden, July 2008.

Wade Center garden, July 2008.

Direct your gaze to the garden,
which to us is no more than the promise soil holds.
There in the nodding daffodils of early spring,
the sweet pea, the day lily, the delphinium
of summer, the phlox and cleome,
the sudden arbor, the rose, the boxwood hedge
precisely trimmed, there you will find
a partial answer to disorder,
the rupture in the stem opening to blossom.

Tum back now to the books before you.
Find there in the uncharted
middle of your life the deep woods
of the Word. You must not hesitate.
Step inside.

– Dr. Jill Peláez Baumgaertner, Professor of English and Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies at Wheaton College, September 8, 2001 for the Dedication of The Marion E. Wade Center