The People Behind The Nancy Cole Essay: A Secret Chronology

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

October 1988: Publication of Kathryn Lindskoog’s The C.S. Lewis Hoax.

January, 1989: J. Stanley Mattson, a California public relations expert, launched a campaign to discredit The C.S. Lewis Hoax in order to defend Walter Hooper and Hooper’s claims about the authenticity of his posthumous C. S. Lewis literature.

April 21, 1989: Stanley Mattson orchestrated a closed-door one-day trial of The C.S. Lewis Hoax. His hand-picked jury of twelve included an energetic book and document dealer named Jennifer Larson. As jury foreman and judge, at the end of the day Mattson pronounced Hoax wrong on forty complex issues that comprised the book. Although publicized afterwards as an unbiased and responsible deliberation, the trial devoted an average of less than ten minutes to each of the forty issues. This astounding agenda meant that there could be absolutely no defense at the trial, no witnesses, no evidence, no argument, and no examination or cross-examination. There was not even any transcript.

Fall 1989: Jury member Jennifer Larson met a document examiner named Nancy Cole and attended a party given by Cole.

April 12, 1990: Nancy Cole wrote to Professor Don and Dr. Sharon Cregier of the University of Prince Edward Island, offering them her professional services. (A mutual acquaintance had notified her that the Cregiers were concerned about authenticity of certain C. S. Lewis documents.) Cole’s credentials impressed the Cregiers, who assumed that “document examination” meant much more than handwriting analysis. They also assumed that Cole would be unbiased and objective, with no hidden affiliations or conflict of interest.

April 1990: Sharon Cregier and Nancy Cole began corresponding about possible examination of The Dark Tower manuscript. Cole expressed enthusiasm. The Cregiers had Lindskoog mail her a copy of The C.S. Lewis Hoax.

Circa May 1990: Jennifer Larson talked to Nancy Cole about Mattson’s April 1989 trial of The C.S. Lewis Hoax, and Cole was favorably impressed with Larson.

May 20, 1990: Don and Sharon Cregier wrote to Stan Mattson suggesting that he co-sponsor with them an examination of The Dark Tower manuscript by an unbiased, well-qualified professional document examiner such as Nancy Cole.

June 7, 1990: Expecting Stan Mattson to accept their offer, Don Cregier sponsored Nancy Cole for a reader’s ticket to the Department of Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, so she could examine The Dark Tower manuscript and other C.S. Lewis documents during a trip to England for a conference later that year.

July 24, 1990: Nancy Cole wrote to the Cregiers inquiring pointedly about the status of the proposed investigation. Cregiers were still waiting for a response from Stan Mattson, and so the co-sponsored project seemed increasingly unlikely. Cole never communicated with Cregiers again.

August 27, 1990: Sharon Cregier sent Stan Mattson a letter restating the invitation to co-sponsor an unbiased examination. He never answered, and has never corresponded with them. But sometime in 1990, probably after July, he began to correspond with Nancy Cole. The nature and extent of their communication has never been revealed, but it seems that in 1995 it became highly consequential.

December 21, 1990: Walter Hooper wrote a letter to Nancy Cole. The nature of that letter and the extent of their communication has never been revealed, but he was to become very helpful to her in 1995.

December 1992: Michael Logsdon, a friend of Stan Mattson, began publishing The Salinas Lewisian, a quarterly newsletter with the stated purpose of defending Walter Hooper and assuring readers there are no forgeries in the Lewis canon.

October 1994: Kathryn Lindskoog published a greatly expanded, updated version of The C.S. Lewis Hoax, titled Light in the Shadowlands: Protecting the Real C.S. Lewis.

November 1, 1994: Michael Logsdon wrote to Don Cregier, offering to help fund a forensic study of The Dark Tower manuscript. Cregier replied that he and Sharon Cregier would be pleased to contribute something to the cost of such a study but would want to be consulted about the methods and the choice of analysts; he thought there should probably be more than one investigator, without previous familiarity with the controversy. Mr. Logsdon did not reply. (The origin of Logsdon’s connection to Nancy Cole has not been revealed, but it may have begun at this point or soon after.)

Circa January 3, 1995: Stan Mattson presided over a dinner party for six in a Berkeley restaurant, with Nancy Cole and Jennifer Larson as special guests from Palo Alto. The purpose of the meeting was defense of Walter Hooper and opposition to the idea that The Dark Tower document might be forged.

January 1995: Less than a month after Mattson’s dinner meeting, Nancy Cole traveled from Palo Alto, California, to Oxford, England, to check the handwriting on The Dark Tower manuscript.

August 1995: Nancy Cole read her resulting essay at a forensics conference. She declared that The Dark Tower manuscript could not possibly be a forgery because the handwriting looks just like Lewis’s. Although Cole and Lindskoog are strangers, Cole repeatedly attacked Lindskoog’s character, personality, and intelligence. She ended her essay with a sentiment that Mattson had expressed as early as January 1989 — that Lindskoog owes Hooper an apology for questioning the authenticity of The Dark Tower.

January 18, 1996: Michael Logsdon announced confidently on an Internet web page that Nancy Cole had published an essay proving that The Dark Tower manuscript is genuine. (Because Michael Logsdon, Nancy Cole, Stan Mattson, Jennifer Larson, and Walter Hooper are all connected in a web of overlapping friendships, it is reasonable to assume that they keep abreast of some of each other’s ideas and activities.)

January 30, 1996: Thanks to the Internet announcement, Kathryn Lindskoog learned there was a Nancy Cole essay and faxed her a letter asking to purchase a copy of the essay and wondering about the content. Cole replied that the essay had been submitted to a journal, and when it was published it would speak for itself.

April 1996: Michael Logsdon suddenly discontinued The Salinas Lewisian without announcing there the news about Nancy Cole’s essay. Instead, he inexplicably announced that there is “nothing really new.” He devoted three pages of his last issue to an erroneous article by Juan Fajardo accusing Lindskoog of intellectual incompetence and possible falsification of sources.

Mid-1996: Although Logsdon lives in Northern California, he became interim editor of The Lamp-Post, quarterly journal of the Southern California C. S. Lewis Society.

Late March 1997: In The Lamp-Post Michael Logsdon announced his news about Nancy Cole’s essay and featured a four-page promotional article about it by his friend Juan Fajardo. Logsdon praised Cole’s essay and Fajardo’s article about it, and urged readers to order copies of the full essay from him at cost. Although he did not say so in The Lamp-Post, he had already decided not to publish any detailed rebuttals to the allegations in Fajardo’s article and Cole’s essay.

Early April, 1997: Nancy Cole’s essay arrived at the homes of Lamp-Post readers who had ordered it. There Cole presented a misleading version of events. For example, according to her account, she was contacted by the Cregiers in 1991 about investigating The Dark Tower document (rather than her contacting them about it in 1990). According to Cole, Stan Mattson did not refuse to answer Cregiers’ overtures for a co-sponsored examination. “Four years later,” after Cole’s “attention was brought to Light in the Shadowlands,” she independently decided “to pursue the examination myself.” From this account, readers would never guess that Cole “pursue[d] the examination” immediately after an important dinner meeting with Stan Mattson and Jennifer Larson. In fact, from her account readers would not guess that Cole knew Mattson and Larson.

April-May 1997: Don Cregier submitted a response for publication in The Lamp-Post, and Michael Logsdon informed him that it would not appear there. Logsdon posted Internet “advertisements” (his term) for the Cole essay, repeatedly praising it and urging people to order copies from him.

June, 1997: Michael Logsdon’s announced target date for launching an Internet web page for Nancy Cole’s essay.