On the Death of Charles Williams

[Longwall Street, Oxford]

This is what John Wain, an undergrad during the war but later Professor of Poetry, wrote on hearing of Williams' death: “I was walking from Longwall Street, where I lodged, towards St. John's, and had just reached the Clarendon Building when a girl I knew by sight came peddling round the corner from New College Lane. "John", she called out, "Charles Williams is dead." She had never spoken to me before, and normally would have avoided using my Christian name. But this was a general disaster, like an air-raid, and the touch of comradliness was right. I asked her for details, but she knew nothing except that he was dead. In any case, she could not talk, she was only just not crying. I walked on towards St. John's. The war with Germany was over. Charles Williams was dead. And suddenly Oxford was a different place. There was still so much to enjoy, much to love and hate, much to get used to; but the war-time Oxford of my undergraduate days had disappeared. Its pulse had stopped with the pulse of Williams."

John Wain was also, of course, a member of the Inklings


Steve Hayes said...

I've always associated John Wain with the Angry Young Men rather than with the Inklings, though that is probably because the only piece of his that I've read is in an anthology called Protest, where it is classified with the Angry Young Men.

Roger R. said...

Odd isn't it Steve. It's often our first exposure to anyone's work that colours our thinking from that day on....


PS Have you yet read Planet Narnia?