Gresham’s Novel Theory about The Dark Tower

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 78, Autumn 1998 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

The Special Centenary Edition of The Dark Tower and Other Stories(HarperCollins, 1998) announces on its back cover that “The Dark Tower … is a draft of a possible fourth volume to follow Lewis’s acclaimed adult science fiction trilogy.” Those who read that statement might be tempted to think that here is another case of sloppy writing by a publisher’s marketing department, because if one looks inside the Special Centenary Edition one still finds Walter Hooper’s claim that The Dark Tower was written in the 1930s. As evidence, Hooper says that Inkling Gervase Mathew (long deceased) told him Lewis read the first four chapters to the Inklings in 1939 or 1940.

But the cover of the new edition of The Dark Tower is apparently no fluke. It likely came straight from Doug Gresham, the new gate-keeper for C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. At Oxbridge 98, Gresham announced that he thinks The Dark Tower was written in the 1950s, because he believes the story reflects the grim period Lewis went through with Joy Gresham as she fought cancer. Gresham thinks the story was meant to be Lewis’s “vision of Hell.” He said he is sure that the story is by Lewis because he has the knack of being able to recognize Lewis’s voice, and he can “hear Jack” speaking to him through it.

Gresham did not claim that C. S. Lewis ever told him about The Dark Tower, however. Nor did he try to square his account with Walter Hooper’s. Does Gresham think that Gervase Mathew misremembered hearing The Dark Tower read to the Inklings before 1940? Or does he perhaps think that Walter Hooper misremembered Gervase Mathew?

“Logic!” said the Professor in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?”