Christ in us...

[A modern bus coming down Headington Hill]

The odd thing was that before God closed in on me, I was in fact offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice. In a sense, I was going up Headington Hill on the top of a bus. Without words and (I think) almost without images, a fact about myself was somehow presented to me. I became aware that I was holding something at bay, or shutting something out. Or, if you like, that I was wearing some stiff clothing, like corsets, or even a suit of armour, as if I were a lobster. I felt myself being, there and then, given a free choice. I could open the door or keep it shut; I could unbuckle the armour or keep it on. Neither choice was presented as a duty; no threat or promise was attached to either, though I knew that to open the door or to take off the corselet meant the incalculable. The choice appeared to be momentous but it was also strangely unemotional. I was moved by no desires or fears. In a sense I was not moved by anything. I chose to open, to unbuckle, to loosen the rein. I say, "I chose," yet it did not really seem possible to do the opposite. On the other hand, I was aware of no motives. You could argue that I was not a free agent, but I am more inclined to think that this came nearer to being a perfectly free act than most that I have ever done. Necessity may not be the opposite of freedom, and perhaps a man is most free when, instead of producing motives, he could only say, "I am what I do."

C.S. Lewis - Surprised by Joy (1955)

"... you can't paint fizzing light, can you?"


I am more shaky than usual this year. The North Polar Bear’s fault! It was the biggest bang in the world, and the most monstrous firework there ever has been. It turned the North Pole BLACK and shook all the stars out of place broke the moon into four — and the Man in it fell into my back garden. He quite a lot of my Christmas chocolates before he said he felt better, and climbed back to mend it and get the stars tidy. Then I found out that the reindeer had broken loose. They were running all over the country, breaking reins and ropes and tossing presents up in the air. They were all packed up to start, you see — yes it only happened this morning; it was a sleigh-load of chocolate things — which always send to England early. I hope yours are nor badly damaged. But isn’t the North Polar Bear silly? And he isn’t a bit sorry! Of course he did it — you remember I had to move last year because of him? 

The tap turning on the Aurora Borealis fireworks is still in the cellar of my old house. The North Polar Bear knew he must never, never touch I only let it off on special days like Christmas. He says he thought it was cut off since we moved — anyway he was nosing round the ruins this morning soon after breakfast (he hides things to eat there) and turned on all the Northern Lights for two years in one go. You have never heard or seen anything like it. I have tried to draw a picture of it; but I am too shaky to do it properly and you can’t paint fizzing light, can you?

Love from Father Christmas
1926

The Father Christmas Letters’
J.R.R. Tolkien

The Father Christmas Letters


Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R.Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or some sketches. The letters were from Father Christmas. 

They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how all the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining-room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house! 

Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humour to the stories. No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by the inventiveness and ‘authenticity’ of Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas. Seek out a copy! 

Nature's depravity


So much for Nature's imperfection; her positive depravity calls for a very different explanation. According to the Christians this is all due to sin: the sin both of men and of powerful, non-human beings, supernatural but created... To be sure, the morbid inquisitiveness about such beings which led our ancestors to a pseudo-science of Demonology, is to be sternly discouraged: our attitude should be that of the sensible citizen in wartime who believes that there are enemy spies in our midst but disbelieves nearly every particular spy story. We must limit ourselves to the general statement that beings in a different, and higher 'Nature' which is partially interlocked with ours have, like men, fallen and have tampered with things inside our frontier. The doctrine, besides proving itself fruitful of good in each man's spiritual life, helps to protect us from shallowly optimistic or pessimistic views of Nature. To call her either 'good' or 'evil' is boys' philosophy. We find ourselves in a world of transporting pleaures, ravishing beauties, and tantalising possibilities, but all constantly being destroyed, all coming to nothing. Nature has all the air of a good thing spoiled.

The sin, both of men and of angels, was rendered possible by the fact that God gave them free will: thus surrendering a portion of His omnipotence (it is again a deathlike or descending movement) because He saw that from a world of free creatures, even though they fell, He could work out (and this is the reascent) a deeper happiness and a fuller splendour than any world of automata would admit.

C.S. Lewis, Miracles (1947)

Jack, in a hat

Now there are many stories about this famous hat, and Major (Warnie) Lewis recalls one of them in his Memoir prefacing the Letters. He writes:

Jack's clothes were a matter of complete indifference to him: he had an extraordinary knack of making a new suit look shabby the second time he wore it. One of his garments has passed into legend. It is said that Jack once took a guest for an early morning walk on the Magdalen College grounds, in Oxford, after a very wet night. Presently the guest brought his attention to a curious lump of cloth hanging on a bush. "That looks like my hat," said Jack; then joyfully, "It is my hat." And clapping the sodden mass on his head, he continued his walk.

That same hat was lost on one of our picnics, coming back from Cambridge at the end of a term. On the way to Cambridge, at the beginning of the next term, we looked inside the field gate where we had picnicked, and there was the hat, under the hedge, being used as a home for field mice. Jack retrieved it, of course, and later on continued to wear it.

Sometime after that, that same hat spent a week under the front seat of my car; and the very last time I drove the professor, the same hat sat squarely on his head.


Clifford Morris, "A Christian Gentleman", C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Remininscences (1979)

John Wain's description of the Inklings

"This was a circle of instigators, almost of incendiaries, meeting to urge one another on in the task of redirecting the whole current of contemporary art and life.” 

---oOo---

This is what John Wain an undergrad during the war but later Oxford 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 an occasional member of the Inklings.

The Scientist Takes Over


A review of C. S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength (1945) 
by George Orwell 

On the whole, novels are better when there are no miracles in them. Still, it is possible to think of a fairly large number of worth-while books in which ghosts, magic, second-sight, angels, mermaids, and what-not play a part. 

Mr. C. S. Lewis's "That Hideous Strength" can be included in their number - though, curiously enough, it would probably have been a better book if the magical element had been left out. For in essence it is a crime story, and the miraculous happenings, though they grow more frequent towards the end, are not integral to it. 

In general outline, and to some extent in atmosphere, it rather resembles G. K. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday." Mr. Lewis probably owes something to Chesterton as a writer, and certainly shares his horror of modern machine civilisation (the title of the book, by the way, is taken from a poem about the Tower of Babel) and his reliance on the 'eternal verities' of the Christian Church, as against scientific materialism or nihilism. 


His book describes the struggle of a little group of sane people against a nightmare that nearly conquers the world. A company of mad scientists - or, perhaps, they are not mad, but have merely destroyed in themselves all human feeling, all notion of good and evil - are plotting to conquer Britain, then the whole planet, and then other planets, until they have brought the universe under their control. 

All superfluous life is to be wiped out, all natural forces tamed, the common people are to be used as slaves and vivisection subjects by the ruling caste of scientists, who even see their way to conferring immortal life upon themselves. Man, in short, is to storm the heavens and overthrow the gods, or even to become a god himself. 

There is nothing outrageously improbable in such a conspiracy. Indeed, at a moment when a single atomic bomb - of a type already pronounced 'obsolete' - has just blown probably three hundred thousand paople to fragments, it sounds all too topical. Plenty of people in our age do entertain the monstrous dreams of power that Mr. Lewis attributes to his characters, and we are within sight of the time when such dreams will be realisable. 

His description of the N.I.C.E. (National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments), with its world-wide ramifications, its private army, its secret torture chambers, and its inner ring of adepts ruled over by a mysterious personage known as The Head, is as exciting as any detective story. It would be a very hardened reader who would not experience a thrill on learning that The Head is actually - however, that would be giving the game away.

One could recommend this book ureservedly if Mr. Lewis had succeeded in keeping it all on a single level. Unfortunately, the supernatural keeps breaking in, and it does so in rather confusing, undisciplined ways. The scientists are endeavouring, among other things, to get hold of the body of the ancient Celtic magician Merlin, who has been buried - not dead, but in a trance - for the last 1,500 years, in hopes of learning from him the secrets of pre-Christian magic. 

They are frustrated by a character who is only doubtfully a human being, having spent part of his time on another planet where he has been gifted with eternal youth. Then there is a woman with second sight, one or two ghosts, and various superhuman visitors from outer space, some of them with rather tiresome names which derive from earlier books of Mr. Lewis's. The book ends in a way that is so preposterous that it does not even succeed in being horrible in spite of much bloodshed. 

Much is made of the fact that the scientists are actually in touch with evil spirits, although this fact is known only to the inmost circle. Mr. Lewis appears to believe in the existence of such spirits, and of benevolent ones as well. He is entitled to his beliefs, but they weaken his story, not only because they offend the average reader's sense of probability but because in effect they decide the issue in advance. When one is told that God and the Devil are in conflict one always knows which side is going to win. The whole drama of the struggle against evil lies in the fact that one does not have supernatural aid. However, by the standard of the novels appearing nowadays this is a book worth reading. 

Manchester Evening News, 16 August 1945
Reprinted as No. 2720 (first half) in The Complete Works of George Orwell,
edited by Peter Davison, Vol. XVII (1998), pp. 250-251

Drink...

A C.S. Lewis story: 

Jack and a friend were walking down a street in Oxford and passed by a beggar.  Lewis reached in his pocket and gave the man a coin.  For this he was reprimanded by his companion who said the beggar would only waste the money on drink.  "What a coincidence," said Lewis, "that's just what I was going to do with it!"  

(via Facebook - hope it's true!)

Betjeman and Lewis

'Life was luncheons, luncheons all the way', Betjeman wrote, not quite accurately, because he was also an active member of the University Dramatic Society and a regular contributor of poetry and architectural comment to the student magazines Isis and Cherwell, which he edited in 1927. In fact, Betjeman worked tirelessly at what interested him, and if Bishop Betjy was an Oxford character, he was always something more than a poseur. Already a recognised authority on architecture, Betjeman was widely read in the most obscure as well as traditional authors, and he shared his dedication to becoming a poet with another undergraduate and close friend, the decidedly unswanky W H Auden of Christ Church. 

Yet like Auden (who instead of a predicted First Class got a Third), Betjeman's experience of English literature at Oxford was, academically speaking, a disaster. It is a common misconception, fostered by Betjeman himself, that he 'Failed in Divinity!' and as a consequence left Oxford for ever: a Byronically outcast 'soul in hell'. But University records indicate that the truth was more complicated and painful than this, and derived in part from the state of mutual antipathy that developed between Betjeman and his tutor, a passionately didactic young don from Northern Ireland who had only just begun teaching at Magdalen in Betjeman's first term: Clive Staples Lewis. 

Although only eight years older than his pupil, C S Lewis's undergraduate experience of Oxford had been very different from Betjeman's. Born in 1898, he attended University College for one term before being shipped out to the Western Front in 1917, where he was wounded by an exploding shell at the battle of Arras. He returned to Oxford after the war and took a First in Greats, then a degree in English, but like many ex-servicemen he found himself completely at odds with the fast cars and flappers mentality of the early and mid-'20s. There had been just twelve other undergraduates at University College in 1917, when Lewis was 18 and the right age to be carefree. By the time he returned, he was 21 and had lived through a war that had killed the golden boys of his generation and he was in no position to appreciate the so-called Golden Aesthetes of Betjeman's day. 

Moreover, there was the additional problem of the School of English Language and Literature, whose establishment in 1894 had attracted the sort of intellectual opprobrium usually reserved for Media Studies today: 'a school for soft-optioners, school teachers, and women'. In order to elevate the study of English above 'mere chatter about Shelley', the emphasis in the taught syllabus was on language rather than literature. Alongside the big writerly guns (Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton), undergraduates were required to study Anglo-Saxon, Middle English and the history of English language and philology. Without an intimate knowledge of Grimm's Law formulating sound-change in early Germanic consonants, even the most diligent student taught by an entirely sympathetic tutor would struggle to excel if language was not their metier, and so Betjeman the puckish dilettante and Lewis the unyielding pedagogue embarked on a fraught master-pupil relationship, the repercussions of which haunted Betjeman for the rest of his life. 

Lewis's idea of a literary salon at this pre-Inklings, pre-Christian stage of his career was a roistering beer-and-baccy session, reciting Norse sagas in his booming voice and encouraging his students to chant linguistic mnemonics out loud. His teaching style was pugnacious, and with his tweed jacket, pipe and aggressively unpoetic vocabulary (excellence was indicated by a laconic 'all right'; defaulters were said to need 'a smack or so' to get them into line), Jolly Jack Lewis appeared to be the embodiment of everything that was hearty and antithetical to the fey, Anglo-Catholic aesthete Betjeman, who admired Victoriana and minor poets and incensed his tutor by insisting that Oscar Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas (with whom Betjeman had enjoyed an illicit correspondence when he was at Marlborough), was a greater writer than Shakespeare. 

'I wish I could get rid of the idle prig', Lewis confided to his diary. 'I was rung up on the telephone ... from Moreton in the Marsh, to say that he hasn't been able to read the OE, as he was suspected for measles & forbidden to look at a book. Probably a lie, but what can one do?' Or again, when Betjeman did deign to turn up, he 'appeared in a pair of eccentric bedroom slippers and said he hoped I didn't mind them, as he had a blister. He seemed so pleased with himself that I couldn't help replying that I should mind them very much myself but I had no objection to his wearing them.' Betjeman's attempt to win his tutor over by inviting him to tea in his rooms in St Aldate's only alienated Lewis further, as he was forced to participate in conversations about lace curtains and to mingle with 'a galaxy of super-undergraduates', including 'an absolutely silent and astonishingly ugly person called McNeice [sic]'. 

It was hardly a surprise, then, that when Betjeman failed the elementary but compulsory First Public Examination in Holy Scripture, his tutor was less than supportive of his requests for help. What was perhaps more surprising was that 'Bishop Betjy', with his attachment to all things ecclesiastical, should have been unsuccessful in his 'Divvers' exam, not once but twice in his third year, before being sent down at the end of Hilary term 1928. 

Dr Judith Priestman
Oxford Today - 
Volume 18 Number 3, Trinity 2006

Warnie on the death of Charles Williams

Tuesday 15th May, 1945

At 12.50 this morning I had just stopped work on the details of the Boisleve family, when the telephone rang, and a woman's voice asked if I would take a message for Jack —"Mr. Charles Williams died in the Acland this morning".  One often reads of people being "stunned" by bad news, and reflects idly on the absurdity of the expression; but there is more than a little truth in it.  I felt just as if I had slipped and come down on my head on the pavement.  J had told me when I came into College that Charles was ill, and it would mean a serious operation; and then went off to see him: I haven't seen him since.  I felt dazed and restless, and went out to get a drink: choosing unfortunately the King's Arms, where during the winter Charles and I more than once drank a pint after leaving Tollers at the Mitre, with much glee at "clearing one throats of varnish with good honest beer": as Charles used to say.

There will be no more pints with Charles: no more "Bird and Baby": the blackout has fallen, and the Inklings can never be the same again.  I knew him better than any of the others, by virtue of his being the most constant attendant.  I hear his voice as I write, and can see his thin form in his blue suit, opening his cigarette box with trembling hands.  These rooms will always hold his ghost for me.  There is something horrible, something unfair about death, which no religious conviction can overcome.

"Well, goodbye, see you on Tuesday Charles" one says — and you have in fact though you don't know it, said goodbye for ever.  He passes up the lamplit street, and passes out of your life for ever.  There is a good deal of stuff talked about the horrors of a lonely old age; I'm not sure that the wise man — the wise materialist at any rate — isn't the man who has no friends.  And so vanishes one of the best and nicest men it has ever been my good fortune to meet.  May God receive him into His everlasting happiness.

W.H. Lewis (Warnie)
Brothers & Friends (1982)

100 things you never knew about Charles Williams in 100 days (10-1)

The final page devoted to the important publication of "The Third Inkling".  In November, normal 'Inklings' service will be resumed!

Number of days left to the launch of  'Charles Williams: The Third Inkling".  Researched and written by Grevel Lindop.  You can pre-order - Click on the title above.

Day 10
Charles Williams told Anne Ridler that the monstrous Wentworth in his novel [Descent into Hell] was based on himself.

Day 9
Expecting poor sales, OUP paid Charles Williams nothing for his finest book of Arthurian poems [Taliessin Through Logres] (1938).

Day 8
Charles Williams hoped to write a novel called [White Martyrdom] dealing with all the themes he wanted to treat in fiction but hadn't.

Day 7
Anne Ridler undertook mystical 'substitution' to carry Charles Williams's pain over his love for Phyllis when she married & went to Java.

Day 6
Anne Ridler often read drafts of Charles Williams's Arthurian poems, helped to polish them and modernise his style.

Day 5
Charles Williams reviewed his own book [Reason and Beauty in the Poetic Mind] anonymously in the [Week-End Review], 1933

Day 4
Charles Williams's poem [Vision of the Empire] was inspired by Olive Speake, a typist in the OUP music department.

Day 3
In 1927 Charles Williams wrote an article for music journal [The Dominant] about being tone-deaf & unable to appreciate music.

Day 2
Charles Williams to A M Hadfield: I ... leave my reputation in your care - prevent me being called sentimentalist, philanderer & 1000 other things.

Day 1
For 20 years Charles Williams spent alternate Sunday evenings with Stella Matutina (Golden Dawn) members at vicarage of Rev AHE ('Henry') Lee.

---oOo---

Charles Williams biography (click here)

Just a fortnight away from the launch of Grevel Lindop's new Charles Williams biography. Author Grevel Lindop discusses the shadowy figure of poet, theologian, magician, and fantasy-writer Charles Williams. He describes the influence of this extraordinary and controversial figure who was also a central member of the Inklings.

100 things you never knew about Charles Williams in 100 days (20-11)

Number of days to the launch of 
'Charles Williams: The Third Inkling"
Researched and written by Grevel Lindop

You can pre-order (£25) - Click on the title above.

Day 20 
WH Auden's long poem [The Double Man] (in UK [New Year Letter]) was inspired by Charles Williams's book [The Descent of the Dove]. 

Day 19

Charles Williams' wife Michal saw 1st performance of his play [Terror of Light] & said 'I think it is dreadful!' CW rewrote it over the weekend.

Day 18
Charles Williams thought WW2 could be affected by his poems: 'Must write poem about archangels destroying octopuses, ensure Macarthur conquers in East'

Day 17
Payment for Charles Williams's play [House of the Octopus] went to cover dental work: he said, 'That play will always mean teeth to me!' 

Day 16
It was Anne Ridler who first proposed the idea of a spiritual group or society of Charles Williams's followers.

Day 15
Charles Williams' 'dearest male friend' was writer DHS Nicholson, editor of The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse.

Day 14
1948 C.S Lewis nightmare: chased by lions; 'A figure approached — touched my hand — "Hallo Jack!"—it was Charles. And I knew everything was ALL RIGHT.'

Day 13
After conversation about some other poet, Charles Williams said to his wife "I say, you won't ever write my biography, will you?"

Day 12
Having failed to get OUP to publish Dylan Thomas's poems, Charles Williams wrote a reference suporting DT for a Royal Literary Fund grant.

Day 11
Charles Williams told Anne Ridler his 1935 biog [Rochester]  'shall not be about John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester at all. It will be about me.’

--- oOo ---

The Third Inkling - Video (Click here)

Charles Williams: Oxford’s lost poetry professor
It was strikingly appropriate that Sir Geoffrey Hill should have focused his final lecture as Oxford Professor of Poetry on a quotation from Charles Williams. Not only was the lecture, in May 2015, delivered almost exactly seventy years after Williams’s death; but Williams himself had once hoped to become Professor of Poetry. And with supporters of the calibre of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, W.H. Auden and T.S. Eliot – admittedly not all of them Oxford M.A.s – Williams might well have succeeded, but for his sudden death, aged 58, in the final weeks of World War Two.
Charles Williams had come to Oxford with other staff from OUP’s London office when war broke out in September 1939. OUP then had its London headquarters (specialising in textbooks and mass market books) at Amen House near St Paul’s cathedral – too vulnerable to bombing. So when war began, the London business was moved to Southfield House, a mansion on the north-east edge of Oxford.
Williams was a central figure at the Press, running the World’s Classics and the Oxford Standard Authors, both highly successful series. But he was also a notable popular novelist, with a string of fantasy-thrillers to his credit – Buchan-style adventure tales which dealt with eruptions of the supernatural into ordinary life. Their themes now seem oddly prophetic: War in Heaven concerned the theft of the Holy Grail by a gang of black magicians; Many Dimensions was about the Philosophers’ Stone.
But Williams was also an experienced and entrancing lecturer on literature. Forged in the tough environment of London County Council evening classes, his lecturing skills included an encyclopaedic knowledge of poetry (he would quote tracts of Milton, Tennyson or Shakespeare from memory at the drop of a hat), fervent and engaging enthusiasm, and a strikingly odd accent (North London mixed with Hertfordshire, with quirks all his own) which you either loved or hated. Most listeners – used to lectures delivered in a languid ‘upper class’ accent – were shocked and then fascinated by his harsh tones.
Moving to Oxford in 1939, Williams already knew Lewis and Tolkien. In fact he had edited Lewis’s scholarly masterpiece The Allegory of Love for OUP. (It was Williams who devised the book’s snappy title; Lewis’s own title had been The House of Busirane: An Essay on the Erotic Allegory of the Middle Ages – which would have killed the book!) Lewis and Tolikien were both avid readers of Williams’s fantasy thrillers, and they immediately invited him to join the Inklings. He remained a central member of the Oxford Christian writers’ group throughout the war.
Wartime Oxford was short of lecturers, and Lewis immediately set about pulling strings to get Williams to lecture for the English Faculty. He began in February 1940, speaking on Milton, and the results exceeded all expectations.
Fifty years later, former students still remembered his performances vividly – ‘Mounting the steps at a bound and launching straight into a flood of quotation’; ‘telling students “Never mind what Mr. so-and-so says about it, read the text and think for yourself!”’; ‘declaiming like an Old Testament prophet or an enthusiastic evangelical preacher’; ‘Leaping from one side of the stage to the other, and acting in turn the part of each character he was talking about’; ‘clutch[ing] his copy of Wordsworth, once almost throwing it into the air, but luckily catching it again… totally absorbed in his fascination with the subject’; ‘Pacing up and down the platform… return[ing] to its centre table three times to bang on it three times with his fist to impress on his audience that “Eternity — forbids thee – to forget”’. In short, ‘Electrifying!’ Some of those students went on to become teachers of English and throughout their careers returned to their notes on those lectures for inspiration.
Lewis was so impressed with Williams’s lecture on the theme of chastity in Milton’s Comus that he declared, ‘That beautiful carved room had probably not witnessed anything so important since some of the great medieval or Renaissance lectures. I have at last, if only for once, seen a university doing what it was founded to do: teaching Wisdom.’
But Williams was also a notable poet. In 1930 he had edited the first mass-market edition of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and it had galvanised his own writing. In 1936 he had published Taliessin Through Logres, the first of a two-volume sequence on the Arthurian legends.
The poems, together with his powerfully inspiring lectures, had brought him admiration not only from his contemporaries (Auden in New York writing to say that he couldn’t wait to buy Taliessin, though ‘it would take courage’ because he didn’t know how to pronounce it!) but from aspiring undergraduate poets, many of whom were taking short courses whilst awaiting mobilisation. Drummond Allison, Sidney Keyes and John Heath-Stubbs, all at Queen’s College, read his work avidly, attended his readings at the Celtic Society and the Poetry Society, and wrote on Arthurian themes in emulation of his work. Both Allison and Keyes, after an early poetic flowering, would die, tragically, in the war; Heath-Stubbs remained a lifelong enthusiast for Williams’s poetry.
And on days when he wasn’t enjoying a lunchtime drink with the Inklings at the Eagle and Child, Charles Williams could often be found in the King’s Arms with Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin. Less enthusiastic about his poems, both keenly attended his lectures and it was to Williams that Larkin sent the manuscript of his first novel, Jill, hoping that Williams could gain the attention of Eliot at Faber and Faber.
With retirement approaching, Williams began to consider the future; there were murmurs that the Chair of Poetry would suit him ideally; he could continue at the Press whilst lecturing, and perhaps take a college Fellowship afterwards. Not only were the Inklings keen; scholars of the calibre of Helen Gardner and Maurice Bowra were likely to back him.
Then, on 15 May 1945, it all fell apart. An old abdominal complaint suddenly recurred; Williams was rushed into hospital, and died after an emergency operation. In the turmoil of the war’s last weeks, his death passed largely unnoticed by the outside world. But literary Oxford was bereft. Hearing the news, C.S. Lewis’s brother Warnie wrote, ‘The Inklings can never be the same again.’ Another undergraduate poet and future Professor of Poetry, John Wain, heard from a fellow-student (‘she was only just not crying’) as he walked into college. Wain sensed that it was the end of an era: ‘This was a general disaster, like an air-raid… The war with Germany was over. Charles Williams was dead. And suddenly Oxford was a different place.’
Grevel Lindop was formerly Professor of Romantic and Early Victorian Studies at the University of Manchester. His previous books include The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas De Quincey; A Literary Guide to the Lake District; Travels on the Dance Floor, which was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week; and a twenty-one volume edition of The Works of Thomas De Quincey. He has published six collections of poems, and his Selected Poems appeared in 2000. His latest book is Charles Williams: The Third Inkling (OUP, 2015).

The Third Inkling - 1st Review

Just seen 1st review of Charles Williams ('gripping - I read it cover to cover in 30 hrs - had to eat & sleep')

Click on the title above... here is the URL too:

http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/review-of-charles-williams-third.html

100 things you never knew about Charles Williams in 100 days (30-21)

Number of days to the launch of 
'Charles Williams: The Third Inkling"
Researched and written by Grevel Lindop

You can pre-order (£25) - Click on the title above.

Day 30
In 1919 Charles Williams underwent a Rosicrucian initiation ritual which involved his being tied, standing, to a full-sized wooden cross.


Day 29
In CW's poem [Vision of the Empire] the image of the headless Emperor is from Byzantine historian Procopius [Secret History] XII.

Day 28
Charles Williams wrote his 1943 Dante book [Figure of Beatrice] from lecture notes because he cdn't face reading the whole Commedia again.

Day 27
Charles Williams's magical sword was buried in the garden at 9 South Parks Road Oxford - University's Chemistry Lab now stands on the site.

Day 26
Charles Williams's wife Michal offered him a divorce during his relationship with colleague and sweetheart Phyllis Jones.

Day 25
Charles Williams hoped to write trilogy: Figure Of Beatrice (Dante) - Figure Of Arthur - Figure Of Power (Wordsworth). Only 1st & part of 2nd written.

Day 24
In 1941 verse letter to Anne Renwick, Charles Williams wrote of "laying you on the altar / whole & bound & glorious'' in St Cross Church Oxford.

Day 23
CharlesWilliams drafted 1944 codicil to will: 'I do not wish that anything written before 1939 shall be published ...'

Day 22
Charles Williams used to tell his students: "You must get poetry into your blood & your bones! Yes into your BLOOD & your BONES!' ‪#‎NationalPoetryDay‬

Day 21
Charles Williams researched roses in the Encyclopedia Britannica to write his poem 'Taliessin in the Rose Garden'.

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100 things you never knew about Charles Williams in 100 days (40-31)

Number of days to the launch of 
'Charles Williams: The Third Inkling"
Researched and written by Grevel Lindop

You can pre-order (£25) - Click on the title above.

Day 40
After reading DH Lawrence's 'Kangaroo', Charles Williams planned to write a 'White Column novel' to 'pull DHL & other things all together.'


Day 39
Charles Williams hoped a Royal Chaplain, whom he knew, might persuade King George VI to join the Companions of the Coinherence.

Day 38
Charles Williams first met TS Eliot at a tea party of Lady Ottoline Morrell's - meeting set up by TSE's friend Montgomery Belgion.

Day 37
P'o L'u, centre of evil in Charles Williams's Arthurian poems, is the medieval Chinese name for the seaport of Barus in Sumatra.

Day 36
Charles Williams always 'looked surprised at the Eucharist; would mutter 'Well Well Well!' in evident astonishment at what had taken place.'

Day 35
Charles Williams's Tarot pack still exists, in private hands - but certain cards are missing! http://t.co/jPxRjcz0Ef 

Day 34
A 1918 articlae in GK Chesterton's [New Witness] attacked Charles Williams as 'The Satanist, but its author soon became CW's keenest fan.

Day 33
Charles Williams used to speak of his 1930 near-fatal intussusception as a death: 'my expereince of death'; 'having died once...'

Day 32
CW's [Judgement at Chelmsford] name checks Thaxted whose 'Red' vicar hung the Red Flag in church - "people must be saved in earth as in heaven."

Day 31
Charles Williams asked Phyllis Potter to take on by 'substitution' his anxiety over getting his book on [Witchcraft] written.

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100 things you never knew about Charles Williams in 100 days (50-41)

Number of days to the launch of 
'Charles Williams: The Third Inkling"
Researched and written by Grevel Lindop

You can pre-order (£25) - Click on the title above.

Day 50
Chloe in novel [Many Dimensions] is portrait of CWs colleague 
& sweetheart Phyllis Jones - he apologised for the name (she disliked 'Chloe'!)


Day 49

In novel [Many Dimensions] Charles Williams killed off his archvillain Sir Giles Tumulty at the special request of girlfriend Phyllis Jones.

Day 48
In [Many Dimensions] Arglay considers ‘wishing himself into the heart of Vesuvius’ with the Stone, to destroy it: anticipates Tolkien's LOTR.

Day 47
Charles Williams wrote his play Judgment at Chelmsford, & visited rehearsals, as 'Peter Stanhope': the actors didn't know who he really was.

Day 46
With girlfriend Phyllis in hospital after riding accident, Charles Williams circled building sunwise to provide magical energy for recovery!

Day 45
Charles Williams gave Phyllis in hospital Wallis Budge’s ‘Amulets & Superstitions’ because it had diagram of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.

Day 44
The whole correspondence between Charles Williams and Phyllis Jones is in Bodleian Library, closed since 1958 & unseen til very recently.

Day 43
Charles Williams’s father was brought up an atheist and was baptised age 36, only a month before his church wedding in 1884.

Day 42
In 1933 OUP asked Charles Williams to check [The Romantic Agony] by Mario Praz before publication to see if it contained anything indecent.

Day 41
Charles Williams considered writing novel about the Moon & lunar influence - 'Artemis perhaps - cold terrible inhuman influence thrilling us!'

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100 things you never knew about Charles Williams in 100 days (60-51)

Number of days to the launch of 
'Charles Williams: The Third Inkling"
Researched and written by Grevel Lindop

You can pre-order (£25) - Click on the title above.

Day 60
Charles Williams's 1st publication was a story, 'My Cousin Dick', in [Temperance Record] Dec 1899: he was 15 years old.

Day 59
WH Auden cherished the dream that Charles Williams would move to OUP's New York office to act as his guru.

Day 58
In August 1935 Charles Williams nursed Catholic poet Eugene Mason on his deathbed, reading poetry to him & fetching heroin as a painkiller.

Day 57
In 1934 Charles Williams got a publisher's questionnaire asking if he'd ever had an 'experience that you consider supernatural?' He said 'No'.

Day 56
Charles Williams put a long quotation from Lenin's [Selected Works] into his 1937 biography of Henry VII.

Day 55
Dylan Thomas attended Charles Williams' lectures: said, "Why, you come into the room and talk about Keats and Blake as if they were alive!”’

Day 54
Charles Williams came to hate his 1930 book [Poetry at Present], calling it 'a horrible book' - 'this pathetic attempt of my immaturity'.

Day 53
Charles Williams couldn't shave himself because of his hand tremor: so he would go to a barber each morning on his way to work.

Day 52
Anne Ridler reported that Charles Wiliams psychically detected site of Dark Age battle at Aisholt Somerset. (But failed at dowsing 4 water)!

Day 51
Charles Williams reckoned he could write 7,000-10,000 words of prose in a weekend, finishing a book in six weeks if necessary.

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100 things you never knew about Charles Williams in 100 days (70-61)

Number of days to the launch of 
'Charles Williams: The Third Inkling"
Researched and written by Grevel Lindop

You can pre-order (£25) - Click on the title above.

Day 70
CW's novel [Place of the Lion] inspired by dream of escaped lion in cornfield in JW Dunne's [Experiment With Time] Chapter 12.

Day 69
In its first draft Charles Williams's novel [All Hallows Eve] was to be called after its heroine, a psychic detective.


Day 68
Whilst denouncing magic in his book [Witchcraft] CW taught a disciple the banishing pentagram ritual, telling her it was 'high magic'.

Day 67
CW's 1940 play [The Devil & the Lady] anticipates [Rosemarys Baby] - plot to conceive a baby Satan so he can become incarnate in the world!

Day 66
War poet Sidney Keyes (1922-43) admired Charles Williams & based his poem 'Gilles de Retz' on material from CW's book [Witchcraft].

Day 65
Nov 1940 Charles Williams reviewed a volume of Carmina Gadelica - Gaelic spells chants invocations - calling it 'a work of high importance'.

Day 64
In 1922 AHE Lee commissioned a horoscope for CW: it predicted financial success but advised against getting married.

Day 63
Charles Williams once joined Oxford friends using a ouija. Formerly 'slow, uninteresting', it 'just went batty...shot around the board!'

Day 62

Charles Williams's poem 'Taliessin in the Rose Garden' was inspired by fine rose garden under his office window at Oxford OUP headquarters.

Day 61
CW's Many Dimensions concerns quest to get rid of powerful transcendent object. The theme would appear later in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

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100 things you never knew about Charles Williams in 100 days (80-71)

Number of days to the launch of 
'Charles Williams: The Third Inkling"
Researched and written by Grevel Lindop

You can pre-order (£25).  Click on the title above.

Day 80
Charles Williams reviewed Yeats’s [A Vision]: Yeats said he was ‘the only one who has understood the greatness and terror of the diagram’.

Day 79
Charles Williams's wife Michal learned from her poacher father to tickle trout: hence the fish image in poem 'Bors to Elaine'.

Day 78
Phyllis Jones's nickname for Charles Williams was 'Urban' - alluding to the famous pope, his love of the city, and his poem An Urbanity.

Day 77

Christopher Fry took all the character names for [The Lady's Not for Burning] from his friend Charles Williams's book [Witchcraft].


Day 76
Charles Williams [Many Dimensions] is 1st timetravel tale with loop -- wish yourself back in time, get to where you wished, wish again... ad inf!

Day 75
CW's office at OUP's Amen House looked into the judges' retiring room at the Old Bailey, and had good view of prisoners arriving for trial.

Day 74
In 1933 Charles Williams took his colleague & sweetheart Phyllis Jones to see the movie [King Kong].

Day 73
In committee TS Eliot and Charles Williams proposed including 'From the desire of damnation, Good Lord deliver us' in Anglican litany.

Day 72
Charles Williams's salary in 1934, the only year we have figures for, was £50 per annum.

Day 71
In 1940 Charles Williams edited a version of Milton's [Samson Agonistes] for performance and live broadcast on BBC Radio.

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