The Lewis Legacy-Issue 83, Winter 2000
Sister Penelope, Author
The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing
January 1, 2000
The Wood (An Outline of Christianity)
by Perry Bramlett
In Suffolk, VA, I went to an old junk bookshop and found a dirt cheap
prize: The Wood (An Outline of Christianity) by Sister Penelope! It has a
blurb on the back by C. S. Lewis for another book of hers, The Coming Of
The Lord: "I am simply delighted with The Coming Of The Lord; delighted,
excited, and most grateful -- I think it is the best book you have done,
and the best theological book I have read by anyone for a long time..."
The Wood has a picture of its author and says "Sister Penelope was born in 1890 at Clent in Worcestershire, where her father was Vicar. She was
educated first at Worcester, under Miss Ottley, at what is now the Alice
Ottley School, then at Oxford. She entered the novitiate of the Anglican
Community of St Mary the Virgin at Wantage in Berkshire a few weeks after coming down from Oxford, and was professed there early in 1915. She worked for six years in the Community's training homes for girls before being put to teach in the schools in Wantage and elsewhere.
"The idea of The Wood - that is, of a book of that scope and content -
first came to her in 1922, but she long hoped that someone else would write it. Ten years later, however, as nobody had done so, and she herself had be invalided out of teaching work, she set about writing it herself.
"Wishing to keep abreast of modern scholarship, in 1939 she took the
Lambeth Diploma in Theology by theses, offering the Hebrew text of the
Psalms as her special subject; and the following year she received the
Archbishop's License to teach Theology, which she still holds. She has
written a number of other books, all of which in one way or another follow
on from The Wood; and she has also published some sixteen translations, including a volume apiece in the Ancient Christian Writers series, Faber's Classics of the Contemplative Life, and the Cistercian Fathers now being published by the Trappists in America."
In her "Suggestions for Further Reading" at the back of the book, Sister
Penelope recommends (among others) J. B. Phillips' Ring of Truth and
"nearly all of C. S. Lewis' religious books, especially the chapter
entitled "The Weight of Glory" in Transposition and Other Essays, and of
his fiction the Space Trilogy and the Narnia stories."