Letter to M.J. Lodgson about Nancy Cole’s Report

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

Prof. D.M. Cregier (Ret.) Department of History University of Prince Edward Island Charlottetown, P.E.I., Canada C1A 4P3 Fax: 902 838-2882 E-mail:DCregier@UPEI.CA
May 21, 1997

Mr. M. J. Logsdon Editor, The Lamp-Post 2294 North Main Street, #48 Salinas, CA 93906

Dear Mr. Logsdon:

I am responding to some comments by Juan R. Fajardo and yourself in the Winter 1996-7 issue of your journal, The Lamp-Post of the Southern California C.S. Lewis Society. These concern the involvement of Dr. Sharon Cregier and myself in a proposed forensic examination of the novel fragment, The Dark Tower, attributed to C.S. Lewis.

Mr. Fajardo correctly states that Sharon Cregier and I wrote Dr. J. Stanley Mattson in 1990 suggesting that The Dark Tower “be scrutinized by a well-qualified professional document examiner” (quotation from my May 20, 1990, letter to Mattson). We offered to co-sponsor and help pay for such a study. Mr. Fajardo, however, goes on to say that “the matter was dropped when no agreement was reached.” I must point out that Dr. Mattson did not reply either to my letter of May 20, 1990, or to a reminder from Dr. Sharon Cregier on August 27, 1990. “No agreement was reached” because there were no negotiations. A few observations are also in order about our connection with forensic document examiner Nancy H. Cole.

Mr. Fajardo writes that we “sought out [Ms. Cole] to perform [the] analysis” of The Dark Tower. This is not strictly accurate. My recollection is that Ms. Cole’s name was suggested to us by a mutual friend. However, the earliest document in our file is a letter from Ms.Cole, dated April 12, 1990, in which she offers us her services. On the basis of Ms. Cole’s impressive credentials, we recommended her to Dr. Mattson. In anticipation that our offer to Dr. Mattson would be accepted, on June 7, 1990, we sponsored Ms. Cole to Dr. Judith Priestman of the Department of Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, for a reader’s ticket to examine”the `Dark Tower’ MS and other documents relating to C.S. Lewis”(quotation from the “Form of Recommendation for Admission to the Bodleian Library”).

Dr. Sharon Cregier and Ms. Cole corresponded between April and July 1990. Although at first very enthusiastic about studying the Lewis material, in late July 1990 Ms. Cole seemed to lose interest, possibly because by that date a remunerative commission was unlikely. In her letter of July 24, Ms. Cole inquired pointedly whether we intended to proceed with the Lewis investigation. This is the last letter from Ms. Cole in our file of correspondence. What further immediate steps, if any, Ms. Cole took respecting The Dark Tower are not known by us. However, in her copyrighted August 1995 conference paper, “An Investigation into the Authorship of The Dark Tower . ..,” there is a reference (p. 9) to a “Letter to Nancy Cole from Walter Hooper . . . dated ’21 December 1990.'” This reference appears to indicate that Ms. Cole and Mr. Hooper, purported discoverer of The Dark Tower, were in contact as far back as 1990.

In 1991 — as Kathryn Lindskoog notes in her Light in the Shadowlands (pp. 246-7) — Dr. Sharon Cregier and I underwrote a computerized stylistic analysis of The Dark Tower by forensic expert A.Q. Morton. The Morton Analysis, as Mrs. Lindskoog writes, showed that The Dark Tower was a composite work by more than one author. This finding, while extremely interesting and suggestive, did not resolve the authorship question. As you will recall, Mr. Logsdon, you wrote me in November 1994 offering to help fund another, and presumbably more holistic forensic study of The Dark Tower. I replied that Dr. Sharon Cregier and I 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. I stated that I thought the investigators — “probably more than one” — should be “completely divorced from C.S. Lewis studies” and “be previously unfamiliar with the controversy over the posthumous ‘Lewisiana.'”

You did not continue the correspondence. Nancy Cole, in a footnote on page 4 of her 1995 report, states that Dr. Sharon Cregier contacted her in 1991 [actually 1990], that no agreement was reached, and that “four years later,” after reading Lindskoog’s Light in the Shadowlands, she decided “to pursue the examination myself.” In 1990, at our request, Mrs. Lindskoog mailed Ms. Cole a copy of her earlier work, The C.S. Lewis Hoax. If Ms. Cole read the Hoax, she was familiar with the details of the Lindskoog claims long before 1995.

Ms. Cole’s revived interest in The Dark Tower controversy would appear to have occurred about the time that you wrote me requesting my cooperation in another forensic analysis of The Dark Tower. As neither you nor Mr. Fajardo mention any connection between your inquiry to me and Ms. Cole’s decision in 1994 or 1995 to investigate the manuscript, I presume there was none. Confirmation (or dissent) from you on this point would, of course, amplify the record. Finally, a few words about Ms. Cole’s paper, a copy of which you were kind enough to send us recently when we requested it. Her conclusion, that The Dark Tower MS is unquestionably in Lewis’s handwriting, must be weighed alongside the findings of A.Q. Morton and other investigators.

Unfortunately, Ms. Cole’s analysis-beginning effectively on page 8 of her 18-page paper-is significantly flawed by factual errors and imprecision throughout the paper, as well as by her gratuitous censure of Kathryn Lindskoog in pages 1 through 8 and on page 18. The errors, some of which could have been avoided by careful editing, naturally weaken the paper’s overall credibility. The unnecessary castigation of Mrs. Lindskoog invalidates any claim by Ms. Cole to neutrality. We are left, therefore, with a need — as I wrote you on November 12, 1994, for a “comprehensive investigation into the authenticity of the posthumous ‘Lewisiana’ [which] must include analysis, by impartial experts [my emphasis], of the provenance, linguistic patterns, and manuscript features (paper, ink, handwriting) of the various documents.” As I further remarked at the time, such experts must be “selected by persons acceptable to all parties in the field of Lewis scholarship.”

Yours truly, Don M. Cregier

P.S. I request that you publish this letter, in its entirety, in The Lamp-Post. If you cannot do so, please use the enclosed sase to return the letter along with any comments you would like to make.

Mike Logsdon declined to publish this letter in The Lamp-Post.