C. S. Lewis Journal: Delight or Debacle?

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 76, Spring 1998 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

The C. S. Lewis Journal is listed in publicity as edited by Susan Wavre for the English publisher Eagle. I don’t know why Eagle leaves my name off, because I’m the author Wavre edited.

Using my book of 365 days, Around the Year with C. S. Lewis and His Friends (Gibson, 1986, out of print), Wavre pulled out bits at random for a 52-week gift book called A C. S. Lewis Prayer Journal. (At the last minute the word Prayer was deleted.) Once the book was in the galley proof stage, an agent contacted me and offered me what came to $471.41 for use of my copyrighted material. I received no explanation for the fact that I was only contacted as an afterthought.

I agreed, but insisted upon checking the galley proofs for accuracy; and I was appalled at what I found. (For example, Wavre said that Till We Have Faces was by Charles Williams.) I sent in a list of specific corrections, and eventually received a copy of the published book. Alas, many of the errors remain.

For example, Wavre’s brief introduction claims that The Pilgrim’s Regress was Lewis’s first book (it was third), and that Lewis made his name as a writer of adult science fiction. She says his Christian apologetics happened “accidentally.” She claims that his “generous income” as a beginning instructor at Magdalen College gave him the freedom to indulge in his main areas of interest, the first two being Anglo Saxon and Norse myths.

C. S. Lewis Journal is a very handsome gift book with a padded front cover and a ribbon marker. (Unfortunately, nine of the book’s 16 scenic photos have nothing to do with Lewis.) My name and Wavre’s are mentioned only in fine print on the copyright page, and I’m rather glad. I’d hate for anyone seriously interested in C. S. Lewis to think that I’m responsible for something this erratic. If only the content had been as important to the publisher as the appearance!