WITHOUT DOUBT, Lewis’s creative and theological genius was stimulated by his weekly meetings with the “Inklings,” a collection of thinkers and friends who gathered regularly to critique each other’s writing and to discuss current events and life in general.
The name of the group was transferred from a defunct Oxford literary society, in which Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had been members, to a group of friends who gathered in Lewis’s rooms at Magdalen College every Thursday night.
Usually present were C.S. Lewis, Warren Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dr. R.E. Havard, and Charles Williams. Other attenders included Nevill Coghill, Hugo Dyson, Owen Barfield, and Adam Fox.
A focus of the meetings was the reading aloud of works in progress for criticism. Inklings heard and discussed first drafts of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Lewis’s The Great Divorce, and Warren Lewis’s book on Louis XIV. In addition, they read and critiqued their own poetry and that of others. Lively discussions ensued on such topics as education, pain, horror comics, and who was the most important man in various countries. Much disagreement is reported to have occurred, and members sometimes expressed intense dislike for each other’s work.
The Inklings began meeting in Lewis’s rooms around 1933 and continued that Thursday evening tradition until 1950. Tuesday morning gatherings at the Eagle and Child public house (known as the Bird and Baby) continued until Lewis’s death.
By the Editors
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #7 in 1985]
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