The Inklings by Humphrey CarpenterC.S. Lewis heard the bells of one of the colleges strike noon as he hurried purposefully along the narrow cobblestone streets of Oxford. He disliked giving the tutorials required of his position of Tutor in English Language and Literature at Magdalen College and usually kept the sessions to the minimum required time. However, this tutorial had given rise to a particularly enjoyable debate, and he never liked to cut off a good hydebate, although he now wished he had. He was late. Lewis hastily acknowledged the barkeep as he ducked into the Eagle and Child, or Bird and Baby as the pub was better known, and hurried towards the sound of his friends’ laughter coming from the back room and to join in the conversation he had been looking forward to all morning. The group was a usual fixture in the pub on Tuesday mornings, and he was swiftly served his drink as ordering was no longer necessary.
As he settled back into his chair, listening to the conversation, he surveyed this group of men, collectively known as the Inklings, which had come to mean so much to him over the years. Present today were Lewis’s brother Warnie Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Hugo Dyson. Lewis briefly wondered what the rest of the members (Nevill Coghill, Owen Barfield, R.E. Havard, and Adam Fox) were doing as he began to reminisce.The impact this literary group had on the world, with books like The Screwtape Letters, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and War in Heaven written by brilliant Inklings as evidence, is tremendous. At the same time, no one was more influenced by the Inklings than Lewis himself. Each of the Inklings might have known one or two others before the formation of the group, thr…
…endship, centered around Lewis, which rose above the diversity.
The group rose and began to gather hats and coats to ready themselves for the crisp spring afternoon. It had been a good Inklings and had produced some rather stimulating conversation. It occasionally reached such a fevered pitch that some other patrons of the Bird and Baby, not the regulars who regarded the Inklings as somewhat of a fixture, to raise an eyebrow. Lewis once remarked they “probably think we’re talking bawdy when in fact we’re very likely talking theology” (185). As this diverse group of friends separated to go back to their jobs at various colleges, Lewis smiled to himself. He was already looking forward to Thursday.
Carpenter, Humphrey. The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and their friends. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1979.