The Lewis Legacy-Issue 80, Spring 1999 From the Mailbag

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 80, Spring 1999 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

Books are big business. Stephen King commanded a $16 million advance from(British) Viking, then defected to Scribners for more money. Conflicts of interest: HarperCollins owner Murdoch spiked Hong Kong Governor Patten’s book because of his criticism of Beijing because Murdoch was lobbying to expand his STAR-TV satellite network in China. Four of the top seven US publishing houses are now controlled overseas.

Sharon Cregier, Prince Edward Island

I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve appreciated not only your books (I read Hoax years ago, and found it completely compelling) but your contributions to MERELEWIS and the spirit (dedication to truth) in which you make them — not to mention the courage shown. Many, many thanks for your work and your willingness to endure scorn from those who either cannot or are unwilling to endure the truth. Further up and further in!

Mike Nicholson, Seal Rock, OR

You are a standing reproach not only to hucksters like Mattson and sly scoundrels like Hooper but also to well-meaning but superficial amateurs who hate ‘unpleasantness’. God bless you and keep up the good work.

Name withheld, Boston, MA

It does seem that Barfield’s motive is the mysterious key to this sad affair. Either he just didn’t want to fuss with the Lewis estate, and Hooper was convenient, or something dreadful is true. I wonder if Barfield had a continued financial stake in the estate.

I have read several of Barfield’s books. They are interesting, intelligent, obscure. Whatever his personal religious beliefs were, his books would need little changing if Jesus were found to be a fraud. (A good test for a writer of opinion who considers himself a Christian.) The idea that he is (was) a “Christian writer” must stem from his association with Lewis.

One thing troubles me about your case against Hooper. You correctly argue that much of the text in dispute is badly written. You produce sentences that Lewis simply could not have written. But at times I wish you didn’t make the case so well — because the bad sentences seem too bad to be written by Hooper! I was standing in the bookstore browsing through C.S. Lewis: Companion and Guide (I refuse to buy it) and noticed that Hooper is an adequate writer. Of course, he has editors for his prose, and he presumably would not be able to have anyone fix his forged prose before it comes out, unless they, too, were complicit. I wonder, how does Hooper write in his letters? Like the affected would-be writer of the bad parts of Dark Tower? Or like the Hooper of the prefaces, introductions, etc. Or do you not agree that there is a difference?

Tim Smith, Huntington, WV

Reply: I have observed that Walter Hooper’s strong talents in penmanship, letter writing, music, roleplaying, research, and public speaking do not extend to other areas such as logical thinking, common sense, elementary scientific knowledge, or skill in writing poetry and fiction, He has at least twice enjoyed the help of a co-author, and there is no way to know if he has had much help from editors. Another major factor, in my opinion, is his apparent impulsiveness and inconsistency.

My impression of the National Public Radio program tape on CSL:

1) Michael Aeschliman is the most learned and best informed

2) Jerry Root is competant

3) Dabney Hart is pretentious, and she’s wrong (perhaps unintentially) that she “wrote the first dissertation in the world” about Lewis. White’s Image of Man in C. S. Lewis lists Edgar Boss writing a ThD dissertation on Lewis in 1948. Hart was a graduate student at Wisconsin in the early 50’s…

Perry Bremlett, Louisville, KY

Focus On The Family Radio Theatre is producing all seven of the Chronicles of Narnia. Though we had intended to release them in their proper chronological order (“Magician’s Nephew” first, etc.), our radio people strongly encouraged us to start with “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” as a powerful Christmas special.

We’re pleased to say that our production is hosted by Douglas Gresham, and our acting line-up includes Paul Scofield (“Man for All Seasons”) as our Storyteller; David Suchet (of Hercule Poirot fame) as Aslan; and some of Britain’s finest voice-talents, many of whom are known very well here for their work in film, TV and stage, but wouldn’t be known in the United States. We’re producing these books in our “soundtrack of the mind” style, which has been used to good effect in “Adventures In Odyssey” and our other more adult programs like “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom.”

The plan is to release each book every three or four months over the next two years.

Paul McCusker, Hailsham, England

I went to Lewis Legacy Online and read the letter from Barbara Linville. Her experience mirrored my own. I found reading The Dark Tower hurtful and disappointing and so unlike CSL’s other writings. I am glad to know now that it is a possible (keeping an open mind) forgery. And the more I read, the more the evidence points to that.

Lydia Knight, Dalton GA

Thank you for Light in the Shadowlands, which I have just read. Whatever the full story of Hooper and the posthumous CSL canon may turn out to be, I am convinced that you are an honest scholar, and that the posthumous Lewis material has been carelessly handled by its owners (at the very least).

It is deeply suspicious to me that you have received no measurely and thorough rebuttal, no invitation to a truly impartial and thorough investigation of the truth, from the persons most deeply implicated by your books. I am reminded of the opening page of Till We Have Faces. You have, Orual-like, dared to accuse the “god of the mountain” of Lewis scholarship.

But there is no judge between gods and men, and the god of the mountain will not answer me. Terrors and plagues are not an answer. Nor are silence and insults…

Larry Gilman, Chicago IL

The unity of Narnia is not a matter of pseudo-factual history, but rather a progression of moods and spiritual growth crises from early childhood to old age and death. Of course, I’m biased because I’m committed to the — roughly publication — order, not chronological order. But people are interested. Paul Ford told me he had received a thesis from Aberdeen on the subject of canonical vs. chronological order.

Doris Myers, Greeley, CO

Praying With C. S. Lewis by Charles C. Taliaferro, St. Mary’s Press, 702 Terrace Heights, Winona, MN, pb, 116 pp, $8.95, ISBN 0-88489-318-9- Contains 15 meditations on themes in praying and prayer, with a mini-bio on CSL (with some of his major beliefs discussed), and each meditation chapter includes: “about Lewis”, “Lewis’s words”, “Reflection”, “God’s word”, and “Closing Prayer” – This looks like an excellent devotional work, especially good for students, pastors, and laity… Taliaferro is assistant professor of philosophy at St Olaf’s College in Minnesota…

Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY

I went to Stratford Tuesday for the official opening night performance of LWW. It was very enjoyable, with lots of special effects, great costumes, some nice music, etc. Afterward we had a backstage tour. I will send you the reviews, etc. The headline of the Times review [“Narnia wins the war but loses the battles”] doesn’t make sense to me and seems to have no connection with the text. I asked if Royal Shakespeare Company has a monopoly on the production and was told yes, for 15 years, but they can grant permission for other groups to do it if they feel like granting permission (and receiving a fat fee, I suppose). They also said that the CSL estate gets 10% of the take and the adapter another 10%. So that should make WH happy. I don’t know whether that was based on factual knowledge or mere speculation. I will have to find out what Pte stands for — or maybe you know already. I think it is something like Ltd.

Lawrence Crumb, Pusey House, Oxford

I am publisher (not the sole one nor the first one) of C.S. Lewis in Poland, — we’ve done the newest edition of the Narnia series, soon Mere Christianity and, I hope next, A Grief Observed. And the translator of the Space Trilogy, already published in at least two editions, has just written to enquire about our re-publishing them.

For a while, Polish law said copyright runs out 25 years after the death of an author, and some of his works got published then. I’ll check, but I think there were some earlier, very limited editions, — the Communists allowed publication, which made them look tolerant and liberal, but they didn’t allow for much paper, which meant that the “harm” they could do was limited. Much of the distribution of such books was by Xerox or mimeograph. I would love to run down such a copy for Perry Bramlett’s collection, I’ll do my best.

Robert Gamble, Warsaw, Poland

Have just finished reading a fascinating book, Bloomsbury Pie, by Regina Marler… It’s a history and evaluation of the “Bloomsbury industry,” and has some insightful observations about the making of all the Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury biographies and studies, and how often, just like in Lewis studies, best-sellers don’t always mean the best scholarship and integrity…

I think I first became interested in Bloomsbury because it was a literary group, just like the Inklings, and because its “industry” is in some ways similar to the Lewis industry… I’ve always admired V. Woolf as a great writer and user of words, and, like so many others, being a very intelligent and creative writer in the midst of all kinds of amazing personal problems and peccadillos…

And, there’s a connection, albeit a tad stretched, to Bloomsbury and C. S. Lewis… The artist Vanessa Bell, sister of V. Woolf and wife of Clive Bell, had a son, Quentin, who wrote the first biography on his aunt V. Woolf. One of Quentin’s three daughters is Virginia Nicholson, who is married to William Nicholson, of “Shadowlands” fame… Lewis also mentions reading Lytton Strachey’s biography of Queen Victoria…

Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY

Some are frightened by any discussion that might cloud their idyllic view of everything surrounding Lewis. Others, such as myself, are uncertain about the subject, but have exchanged personal correspondence with Doug (or perhaps, Hooper) and can’t bear even the remotest thought that there might exist collusion on anyone’s part in perpetuating untruths… The irony is that we all share (I sincerely believe) the same desire to have Lewis’ memory and ongoing ministry continue with greater and greater prominence.

Just thought I would drop you this note to say that there are probably many of us who are swayed by your presentation. It’s just that the subject is all so “unpleasant.” Well, in the actual End, truth will be known. But at that time whatever error exists, in God’s grace, will be consumed and forgotten.

Major Robert Stroud, Chaplain, USAF

As to your query, “Why don’t you discover a long-lost document from Bach…?”, here are two replies.

There was a genuine discovery in 1974, Bach’s personal copy of the published “Goldberg Variations.” This provided the previously-lost “Goldberg Canons” and also Bach’s own notations in his printed score — the latter were especially interesting to me because they vindicated some of the notes I had written into my score, so I guess my instinct isn’t too bad! A few years later, the “Neumeister Preludes” came to light, some of which were previously unknown (clearly an early work, but nice to have). These discoveries have been made available to reliable scholars and judged by them to be authentic.

The other was a splendid spoof that [a friend] provided when my daughter Victoria was born. He claimed that this “long-lost work” proved a connection between Bach and Williams College (the latter, by the way, was founded 43 years after the death of Bach). Bob took the College football song “Yard by Yard” and put it into four-part counterpoint with the notes H-C-A-B (I imagine you know that German B and H = English B-flat and B-natural), calling the result “Berceuse for Victoria Christina Hill.” It was great fun.

When I taught Lewis/Williams last January, I suggested that one possibility for the short story that my students were to write was to fill in an episode in the novels we read or to add a sequel. Again — we both know! — that what students write for me (with no intention of publication) is not covered by Copyright considerations. One of my students did indeed write a “Susan” sequel, and I found it really touching — given that it was a first draft and that my course was not one in creative writing. Another student wrote a nice story about Ransom’s last voyage (post-THS, to the dying planet Pluto), still another tried his hand (less successfully, but I applaud initiative and imagination!) at the first voyage of Weston and Devine to Malacandra, and one rewrote (not convincingly for me personally) a chapter of War in Heaven. Naturally, I’ll encourage students to try the same next year.

Victor Hill, Williamstown, MA

The work of the C. S. Lewis Foundation seems to consist of: (1) Restoration of the Kilns — as far as I can make out, this work is entirely carried out by self-funded volunteers; and (2) Supporting the work of the Foundation (“the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of an expanding bureaucracy…”).

On the one hand, a USA Today article says: “The C.S. Lewis Foundation has a mailing list of about 15,000 people. Each year it mails out information about plans for working on The Kilns. Volunteers pay their own way to England.” On the other hand, the “prayer letter” on the Foundation’s web site says in part: “Blessed as we are with the new additions to staff, there remains a few key positions yet to be filled. Most urgently, we are seeking an Executive Secretary to help manage my highly demanding correspondence and relational aspects of this office. We are also in need of an Office Manager/Administrative Assistant to allow Cindy Smith to serve in the area of administration thereby enabling her to relieve me of my ever growing list of duties. Moreover, we are in need of an experienced Information Services Manager to fully utilize our newly acquired database system.

I had a look at the Foundation’s web pages (unlike every other Lewis web site, this one contains no links to any other Lewis or Lewis-related sites) and this is what they say about the Kilns’ restoration: The dedication of the C.S. Lewis Study Centre at The Kilns will constitute one of the high points of the Oxbridge ’98 centennial celebration…. The project is funded by donations which have poured in from far and wide thanks to Lewis’ redoubtable literary reputation. The largest individual gift – $25,000 – was from Thomas L. Phillips, retired chairman of the Lexington, Mass.-based Raytheon Company. If the volunteers pay their own way, and large items such as the 1930’s AGA cooker are donated, then where does all the money go? Finally, unlike every other C.S. Lewis web site, this site contains no links to any other Lewis or Lewis-related sites.

My concern is not so much that large sums of money are being siphoned off from what Stan Mattson charges for Oxbridge conferences (I don’t have any evidence of this), but that so much money is being spent on maintaining an office to raise money, that there is very little left over for the grand “mission” of the Charity.

If the important thing is to get people to attend the programs, then these can be organised and promoted by one person working part time out of a spare room in their home: no need for a full-time office with staff, rent, equipment etc. etc. I know because the company I used to be involved with ran a three-day European Software Migrations Workshop plus other, shorter events every year on this basis. The support costs of the company were more than covered by the conference fees.

If there really isn’t enough support for the Foundation to meet its Mission Statement: and I don’t believe that there is (the Establishment of C.S. Lewis College is going to require many millions of dollars), then the Mission Statement should be scaled down to something which CAN be achieved: namely, redecorating The Kilns and running programs. These activities are entirely self-financing, so there is no need for time-consuming and expensive fund-raising activities.

They could even use some of the time saved to update their web site.

Martin Ward, Durham, England

In re-reading Under The Mercy, I read the following again, which doubtless you remember, the part where Van visits CSL just before his death, asks him if he needs a secretary, and Lewis replies, “Not yet”… It seems obvious that if WH had been a secretary to Jack in the months previous, he would have mentioned it to Van…

Perry Bramlett, Louisville, KY

I am 50 years old and have been reading C.S. Lewis for perhaps 42 or so of those years. I will never forget the day that I first read The Dark Tower. I was confused and angry. How could a man whose ideals I had come to know and love, a man who by his writings had helped me to learn right and wrong, have written such trash. It wasn’t until you wrote the The C. S. Lewis Hoax that I realized that this was probably added to his works by WH. I recall that when your book first came out I telephoned The New York Times Book Review and spoke to one of the editorial staff. I was flabbergasted that such a prestigious publication, itself an arm of an investigative news organ, should have had no mention of this — even if it was just to rebut it. The person I spoke with rather impolitely told me that this was a scholarly matter and had no business in a consumer magazine.

I pointed out that Lewis’ books had sold millions of copies, that if your work was true the marketplace was being flooded with forgeries. Leaving out even the worth of the author’s true works, why was this not news? If any other best-selling author’s works were accused by a reputable authority of being forgeries would they not investigate? Well, the person I was speaking with just brought the conversation to a quick end.

But your book, by pointing out the horrible things that WH had done, restrengthened my love of Lewis’ works and instead of turning away from him I continued to enjoy him for the next few decades too and your book has, since then, always been on the top shelf of my bookcase. Then, today, I was in a new bookstore and picked up the new C. S. Lewis Readers’ Encyclopedia. I looked up The Dark Tower wondering if at last some publication would tell of this — and, of course, there it was. There also was mention of Light in the Shadowlands of which I was not aware. I bought the encyclopedia, will begin reading it tonight, and I ordered Light in the Shadowlands overnight from And a Web search led me to your Site.

Neil Shapiro, MSN Network, Community Manager/Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror

I just wanted to let you know how important the last few issues of the Legacy have been in providing us with details that were invaluable during our visit to the Lewis’s home and Church. As part of the annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation, which met at Cambridge this past August, we had a two week tour of the British Isles. On our bus were your good friends Walt and Ginny Hearn, delightful people. We had some long discussions with them concerning the work you continue to do in purifying the Lewis cannon. They said the main reason they did not attend the centennial celebration at Oxbridge was the lack of response from those in charge, Mr. Mattson et all, to overwhelming evidence of pollution in CSL’s work.

We had a couple of days to ourselves in London at the conclusion of the tour at which time we took a train to Oxford, and a bus to Headington Quarry to see The Kilns. When we entered “Lewis Close,” as you mentioned, there was a sign below which read “No Coaches.” I can see why as there would be no room to turn around if one drove in by the house. I would guess that the road would have been the original driveway to The Kilns. Now, as you have written, there are a few other houses on the street, one to the north, quite close to The Kilns. Perhaps that is the one the Foundation is wanting to purchase.

I recognized the Kilns immediately upon entering Lewis Close thanks to your picture of the newly renovated Thirsk garage. And, yes it is a very attractive feature of the property. We were pleased to see the landscaping, flowers, shrubs & trees are well cared for & the property attractively maintained. I had written to Michael Ward to see if he would be willing to give us a tour of the house but he had responded that would be impossible as he would not be there at the time (Aug 15th). Naturally we were disappointed. But while taking pictures a car pulled up and a man got out heading for the house. Asking if he lived there, he said he did. I then asked if there was any possibility of him showing us through. He was a doctor and had to be at his work shortly, but he graciously consented and showed us both the first and second floors. So we have pictures in all the rooms including CSL’s & WHL’s bedrooms.

Back outside I had in mind the sketch you had reproduced of the east side of the house showing the outside staircase to Lewis’s bedroom. Friend wife pointed out the faint outline where the staircase had been due to slight difference in the color of the brick. Having just been in his bedroom, passing through Mrs. Moore’s to get there, we could see why the staircase had been built.

The gentleman who showed us through the house told us we should also take the trail through the nature conservancy which would have been originally a part of the Lewis property. It was well worthwhile, past the pond and up the hill in the dense overgrowth. Then we walked to Holy Trinity Church and graveyard.

We were fortunate to find a Mr. Charles Kimber, an 80+ year old gentleman who knew the Lewis brothers. He showed us around the Church, brought out the communion set the brothers had used when worshiping there and shared some stories with us. And, yes we sat in their pew. He then showed us the brother’s grave and pointed out the two Mrs. Moore’s grave as well. Again, you had written about these in the summer issue. Then we visited Magdalen College to see the Centenary Stone which is placed exactly as you showed in the winter issue. We were happy to see the recognition of Lewis’s work there on Addison’s Walk, but how much better it would have been if written as CSL originally published it. We walked to the Eagle & the Child where we hoped we could have lunch, but too late. I asked the server where the room was where Lewis met with the Inklings & where the plaque was recognizing this group. He said he didn’t know! One of those sitting at a table nearby pointed up over the doorway where it was mounted. We were standing in the room. It was quite small with a few pictures of Lewis and his friends on the wall. Just had to tell you how valuable the Legacy was to us on this “trip of a lifetime.”

Norman Wheeler, Holley, NY