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The Dating of Macphee

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 82, Autumn 1999 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

In answer to the announcement that there is post-1950 ink on the 1938 manuscript of The Dark Tower, HarperCollins and Douglas Gresham (official spokesman for C S Lewis Pte) suddenly announced in 1998 that C. S. Lewis did not write the story in 1938 after all; he wrote it circa 1958. (That would place it 14 years after That Hideous Strength.)

Dark Tower Timeline

1938: Lewis wrote TDT (according to Hooper)
1958: Lewis wrote TDT (according to Gresham)
1977: Hooper published his 1938 claim
1988: Lindskoog labelled TDT a forgery
1998: HarperCollins published 1958 claim

In 1998 Dr Philip Robinson of Ulster Folk Museum, Holywood, County Down, joined the issue; he is the author of the “Ulster-Scots Dialect Grammar” as well as a Lewis buff. He writes: “I can say with conviction that there is no possibility whatsoever that Lewis would have characterised his MacPhee in The Dark Tower as a Scotsman after writing That Hideous Strength.”

James O’Fee adds that Lewis would never have created The Dark Tower’s MacPhee as a lifeless, wooden Scotsman, after creating the lively Ulsterman of That Hideous Strength.

Robinson and O’Fee appear to demolish the claim of Doug Gresham and HarperCollins that Lewis wrote The Dark Tower in the late 1950s. But if he wrote it in 1938, as claimed by Walter Hooper, no one can explain the post-1950 ink on the manuscript.

In regard to Hooper’s claim, O’Fee points out that Lewis would not have handled McPhee as he did in Perelandra {1943} if he had already developed MacPhee as a major character in The Dark Tower (1938}. So it looks as if Dark Tower defenders need to switch dates again; they need one that came before 1943 (Perelandra) and 1945 (That Hideous Strength) yet sometime after 1950 (introduction of telltale ink). Maybe they can find such a date in Othertime.