Was Gervase Mathew Really In The Inklings In 1939? by E. Shyaty

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 73, Summer 1997 The C. S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

Walter Hooper claims that Gervase Mathew heard C. S. Lewis read The Dark Tower at an Inklings meeting. But there is no evidence that Gervase Mathew was in the Inklings in 1939 or 1940, and there is evidence from Lewis that he was not. On 3rd February 1940 Lewis wrote to Warren: “The Inklings is now very well provided, with Adam Fox as chaplain, you as army, Barfield as lawyer, Havard as doctor-almost all the estates-except of course anyone who could produce a single necessity of life-a loaf, a boot, or a hut…”When Lewis wrote that letter he did not know that there would be a controversy years later about a manuscript called The Dark Tower. The letter is independent evidence: it reports a fact without trying to make a point. If Gervase Mathew, a Dominican, had been in the Inklings up to or including February 1940, Lewis would have mentioned him as representing another of the estates of life, that of celibacy and monastic scholarship. But in his February 1940 letter about the Inklings he does not mention Gervase Mathew. There is more evidence from Lewis that Gervase Mathew was not attending Inklings meetings when Hooper says he was. Lewis wrote to Dom Bede Griffiths about the Inklings, listing them by Church affiliation: “Williams, Dyson of Reading and my brother (Anglicans), and Tolkien and Havard (our doctor), your church, are the ‘Inklings’ to whom my Problem of Pain was dedicated.” If Gervase Mathew had been an Inkling then, Lewis would have mentioned him with the other Roman Catholics, Tolkien and Havard. The date of this letter is 21st December 1941. Both quoted letters are in Letters Of CSL, Warren’s edition.