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Mythopoeic Society

a non-profit organization devoted to the study of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, the Inklings, and the genres of myth and fantasy


About the Society

About the Inklings

[J.R.R. Tolkien | C.S. Lewis | Charles Williams]

The Inklings were a gathering of friends – all of them British, male, and Christian, most of them teachers at or otherwise affiliated with Oxford University, many of them creative writers and lovers of imaginative literature – who met usually on Thursday evenings in C.S. Lewis’s and J.R.R. Tolkien’s college rooms in Oxford during the 1930s and 1940s for readings and criticism of their own work, and for general conversation. “Properly speaking,” wrote W.H. Lewis, one of their number, the Inklings “was neither a club nor a literary society, though it partook of the nature of both. There were no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections.” An overlapping group gathered on Tuesday (later Monday) mornings in various Oxford pubs, usually but not always the Eagle and Child, better known as the Bird and Baby, between the 1940s and 1963. These were less formal meetings, and contrary to popular legend the Inklings did not read their manuscripts in the pub.


A Beginner’s Bibliography of the Inklings

Updated May 2009
Compiled for the Mythopoeic Society by David Bratman

This bibliography is intended as a brief guide to works of fiction, poetry, essays and letters by the three principal Inklings, and to introductory works about them. A supplement discusses the other Inklings. Most of these books are in print; many others should be in large libraries. Publishers of U.S. editions are listed; check with a bookstore, or at amazon.com or elsewhere online for current availability. Dates are of first publication; “pb” means pocket-sized paperback; otherwise the publisher issues a hardcover and/or large-size (trade) paperback. Omnibus editions and special editions are numerous and generally not noted.


Fictional Works of the Inklings

all novels unless otherwise stated

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)

Assistant Editor, Oxford English Dictionary (1918-1920); Reader (later Professor) of English Language at Leeds University (1920-1926); Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University (1925-1945); Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford University (1945-1959)

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again (1937, rev. 1951 & 1966) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb); authoritative edition is The Annotated Hobbit, ed. Douglas A. Anderson (1988, rev. 2002) (Houghton Mifflin); drafts published as The History of The Hobbit, by John D. Rateliff (2007) (HarperCollins)

Leaf by Niggle” (story) (1945), reprinted in Tree and Leaf (1964) (with essay “On Fairy-Stories”) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb*)

Farmer Giles of Ham (story) (1949) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb*); authoritative edition is 50th anniversary edition, ed. Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull (1999) (Houghton Mifflin)

The Lord of the Rings (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb):

  • Vol. 1 (Prologue, Books 1-2), The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
  • Vol. 2 (Books 3-4), The Two Towers (1954)
  • Vol. 3 (Books 5-6, Appendices), The Return of the King (1955)

    Authoritative edition is 50th anniversary edition (2004, rev. 2005) (Houghton Mifflin)
    Early drafts published as (all Houghton Mifflin):

    • Part 1, The Return of the Shadow (1988) (approx. Book 1)
    • Part 2, The Treason of Isengard (1989) (approx. Books 2-3)
    • Part 3, The War of the Ring (1990) (Books 3-5)
    • Part 4, “The End of the Third Age” in Sauron Defeated (1992) (also published separately) (Book 6)
    • The Prologue and Appendices to The Lord of the Rings” in The Peoples of Middle-earth (1996)

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and other verses from the Red Book (poetry) (1962) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb*)

Smith of Wootton Major (story) (1967) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb*); authoritative edition is Extended edition, ed. Verlyn Flieger (2005) (HarperCollins)

The Father Christmas Letters, rev. as Letters from Father Christmas (letters) (1976, rev. 1999) (Houghton Mifflin) (see also under “Essays, Letters, & Diaries”)

The Silmarillion (posthumous collection) (1977) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb)

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (posthumous collection) (1980) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb)

Mr. Bliss (children’s story) (1982) (Houghton Mifflin)

The History of Middle-earth (posthumous collections) (Houghton Mifflin; some also Del Rey pb):

  • Vol. 1-2, The Book of Lost Tales, 2 vols. (1983-4)
  • Vol. 3, The Lays of Beleriand (poetry) (1985)
  • Vol. 4, The Shaping of Middle-earth (1986)
  • Vol. 5, The Lost Road (1987)
  • Vol. 6, The Return of the Shadow (1988) (see under The Lord of the Rings above)
  • Vol. 7, The Treason of Isengard (1989) (see under The Lord of the Rings above)
  • Vol. 8, The War of the Ring (1990) (see under The Lord of the Rings above)
  • Vol. 9, Sauron Defeated (1992) (see also under The Lord of the Rings above)
  • Vol. 10, Morgoth’s Ring (1993)
  • Vol. 11, The War of the Jewels (1994)
  • Vol. 12, The Peoples of Middle-earth (1996) (see also under The Lord of the Rings above)

Roverandom (children’s story) (1998) (Houghton Mifflin)

The Children of Húrin (2007) (Houghton Mifflin)

The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún (poetry) (2009) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

* Except for Smith of Wootton Major, the Ballantine pbs are published as one volume titled The Tolkien Reader


C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Fellow and Tutor in English at Magdalen College, Oxford University (1925-1954); Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University (1954-1963)

The “Ransom” or “Space” trilogy (Scribner hardcover & pb):

  • Out of the Silent Planet (1938)
  • Perelandra (1943; also published as Voyage to Venus)
  • That Hideous Strength (1945)

The Chronicles of Narnia (HarperCollins hardcover & pb):

Publication order Order of internal chronology
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) The Magician’s Nephew
Prince Caspian (1951) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader” (1952) The Horse and His Boy
The Silver Chair (1953) Prince Caspian
The Horse and His Boy (1954) The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”
The Magician’s Nephew (1955) The Silver Chair
The Last Battle (1956) The Last Battle

Note: the publisher has recently numbered the books in order of internal chronology, but most Lewis scholars recommend reading them in order of first publication.

Till We Have Faces (1956) (Harcourt)

The Dark Tower and other stories (short stories) (1977) (Harcourt)

Boxen (juvenalia) (1985, rev. 2008) (Harcourt)

Lewis also wrote several books of theological fiction: The Pilgrim’s Regress (1933) (Eerdmans); The Screwtape Letters (1942) (Harper); The Great Divorce (1946) (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone; Harper).


Charles Williams (1886-1945)

Staff editor, Oxford University Press (1908-1945)

Seven novels (all Eerdmans):

  • War in Heaven (1930) (the one with the Holy Grail)
  • Many Dimensions (1931) (the one with King Solomon’s Stone)
  • The Place of the Lion (1931) (the one with the Platonic archetypes)
  • The Greater Trumps (1932) (the one with the Tarot deck and the Great Dance)
  • Shadows of Ecstasy (1933) (the African one)
  • Descent into Hell (1937) (the one with the doppelgänger)
  • All Hallows Eve (1945) (the dead women in London one)

An omnibus, The Charles Williams Reader (Eerdmans) contains War in Heaven, Many Dimensions, and Descent into Hell.

Et in Sempiternum Pereant” (short story) (1935), reprinted in Tales Before Narnia, ed. Douglas A. Anderson (Del Rey Books), The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories, ed. Michael Cox and R.A. Gilbert (Oxford University Press), Black Water, ed. Alberto Manguel (Clarkson Potter), and Visions of Wonder, ed. Robert H. Boyer and Kenneth J. Zahorski (Avon)

The Noises That Weren’t There” (unfinished story) (1970-2), serialized in Mythlore nos. 6-8


Poetry

Tolkien: Tolkien’s poetry is scattered throughout his fictional works; separate editions of poems from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have been published. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, The Lays of Beleriand, and The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún (listed above) are completely poetry, as is Bilbo’s Last Song (1974) (Houghton Mifflin). “Mythopoeia” is included in recent editions of Tree and Leaf. The Road Goes Ever On (1967) (Ballantine) contains several Tolkien poems with musical settings by Donald Swann. Tolkien also translated three Middle English poems, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo (1975) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb).

Lewis: Collected Poems (1994) (Fount) includes Poems (1964) (Harcourt) and Spirits in Bondage (1919) (Harcourt). Narrative Poems (1969) (Harcourt) includes “Dymer”, “Launcelot”, “The Nameless Isle”, and “The Queen of Drum”.

Williams: Taliessin Through Logres (1938) and The Region of the Summer Stars (1944), in one volume, either with other Arthurian poems as Charles Williams in the Arthurian Poets series (Boydell) or with Arthurian Torso (1948) (an essay on “The Figure of Arthur” by Williams and a commentary on the poetry by C.S. Lewis) (Eerdmans). Williams also published five earlier volumes of poetry, now out of print: The Silver Stair (1912), Poems of Conformity (1917), Divorce (1920), Windows of Night (1924), and Heroes and Kings (1930).


Drama

Tolkien: “The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son” (verse play and essay) (1953) (in Poems and Stories, Houghton Mifflin, and The Tolkien Reader, Ballantine pb).

Williams: Collected Plays (1963) (Oxford University Press); The Masques of Amen House (2000) (Mythopoeic Press).


Essays, Letters, and Diaries

The Inklings’ essays and letters contain their own thoughts on their fictional creations, and on authors and ideas that influenced them.

Tolkien

Essays The Monsters and the Critics and other essays (1983) (Houghton Mifflin), includes “On Fairy-Stories”, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”, and other philological and literary essays. “On Fairy-Stories” is also in Tree and Leaf (Houghton Mifflin) and The Tolkien Reader (Ballantine pb); authoritative edition is Tolkien on Fairy-stories, ed. Verlyn Flieger & Douglas A. Anderson (2008) (HarperCollins). Two fuller texts of “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” are in Beowulf and the Critics (2002) (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies).
Letters The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981, index rev. 2000) (Houghton Mifflin); Letters from Father Christmas (1976, rev. 1999), letters to his children in the guise of Father Christmas, telling stories about the North Pole (Houghton Mifflin)

Lewis

Essays Numerous collections and repackagings. On Stories and Other Essays on Literature (1982) (Harcourt) is the most relevant for understanding his fiction. Lewis also wrote many full-length studies, including An Experiment in Criticism (1961) (Cambridge University Press) and The Four Loves (1960) (Harcourt). His many theological books include Mere Christianity (1952) (Simon & Schuster; Harper).
Letters Letters of C.S. Lewis (1966, rev. 1988) (Harcourt); Collected Letters, 3 vols. (2000-2007) (Harper). Several shorter collections include They Stand Together: The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1979) (Macmillan); Letters to Children (1985) (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone)
Diaries All My Road Before Me (diaries of 1922-7) (1991) (Harcourt)

Williams

Essays Essential Writings in Spirituality and Theology (1993) (Cowley Publishers); The Image of the City and other essays (1958) (Oxford University Press); The Detective Fiction Reviews of Charles Williams, 1930-1935 (2003) (McFarland). His numerous critical and theological works include The Figure of Beatrice: A Study in Dante (1943) (Boydell).
Letters To Michal from Serge (letters to his wife, 1939-1945) (2002) (Kent State University Press); Lois Lang-Sims, Letters to Lalage (1989) (Kent State University Press)

Art and Designs

Tolkien: Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin) (1979, rev. 1992); Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator (1995) (Houghton Mifflin)


Selected Books About the Inklings

These are a few introductory and important books selected from the many works about the Inklings. They are useful companions to the fiction, and help to reveal the mythopoeic or myth-making aspects of the authors. Listing does not imply endorsement by the Mythopoeic Society.

Biographies

General: Humphrey Carpenter, The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and their friends (1978) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb)

Tolkien: Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien: A Biography (1977) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb); John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth (2003) (Houghton Mifflin); Christina Scull & Wayne G. Hammond, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion & Guide: Chronology (2006) (Houghton Mifflin); John and Priscilla Tolkien, The Tolkien Family Album (1992) (Houghton Mifflin)

Lewis: C.S. Lewis, Surprised By Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (1955) (Harcourt); Roger Lancelyn Green and Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis: A Biography (1974, revised) (Harcourt); George Sayer, Jack: C.S. Lewis and His Times (1988, revised) (Crossway); Alan Jacobs, The Narnian (2005) (Harper).

Williams: Alice Mary Hadfield, Charles Williams: An Exploration of His Life and Works (1983) (Oxford University Press)

Literary Studies

a very selective listing from among numerous books

General: Diana Pavlac Glyer, The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2007) (Kent State)

Tolkien: Verlyn Flieger, Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World (1983, rev. 2002) (Kent State University Press); Verlyn Flieger, A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Road to Faërie (1997) (Kent State University Press); Paul H. Kocher, Master of Middle-earth (1972) (Houghton Mifflin; Ballantine pb); Christina Scull & Wayne G. Hammond, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion & Guide: Reader’s Guide (2006) (Houghton Mifflin); T.A. Shippey, J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of the Century (2000) (Houghton Mifflin); T.A. Shippey, The Road to Middle-earth (1982, revised) (Houghton Mifflin; HarperCollins UK)

Lewis: Joe R. Christopher, C.S. Lewis (1987) (Twayne); James T. Como, Branches to Heaven: The Geniuses of C.S. Lewis (1998) (Spence); Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis, A Companion & Guide (1996) (HarperCollins) (also biographical); Doris T. Myers, C.S. Lewis in Context (1994) (Kent State University Press); Chad Walsh, The Literary Legacy of C.S. Lewis (1979) (Harcourt)

Williams: Glen Cavaliero, Charles Williams, Poet of Theology (1983) (Eerdmans); Thomas Howard, The Novels of Charles Williams (1983) (Ignatius Press); Agnes Sibley, Charles Williams (1982) (Twayne)

The Secondary World

Books about the fictional worlds created by the Inklings

Tolkien: Jim Allan, ed., An Introduction to Elvish (1978) (Thornton’s); Karen Wynn Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth (1981, rev. 1991) (Houghton Mifflin/Mariner); Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth (1971, rev. 1978) (Ballantine pb); Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion (2005) (Houghton Mifflin)

Lewis: Paul F. Ford, Companion to Narnia (1980, revised) (Harper; Macmillan); Martha C. Sammons, A Far-Off Country: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s Fantasy Fiction (2000) (University Press of America); Peter J. Schakel, The Way Into Narnia: A Reader’s Guide (2005) (Eerdmans)

Bibliographies

Lists of works by and about the Inklings may be found in many of the biographies and literary studies above; the following bibliographies are intended to be comprehensive up to their dates of publication.

Tolkien: Wayne G. Hammond and Douglas A. Anderson, J.R.R. Tolkien, A Descriptive Bibliography (1993) (Oak Knoll Books); Richard C. West, Tolkien Criticism: An Annotated Checklist (1970, rev. 1981) (Kent State University Press); Michael D.C. Drout et al, “Bibliography (in English),” in Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review (2004- )

Lewis: Walter Hooper, “A Bibliography of the Writings of C.S. Lewis”, in his C.S. Lewis, A Companion & Guide (1996) (HarperCollins); Joe R. Christopher and Joan K. Ostling, C.S. Lewis: An Annotated Checklist of Items About Him and His Works (1974) (Kent State University Press); Susan Lowenberg, C.S. Lewis: A Reference Guide, 1972-1988 (1993) (G.K. Hall)

Williams: Lois Glenn, Charles W.S. Williams: A Checklist (1975) (Kent State University Press)


The Other Inklings

Humphrey Carpenter in The Inklings (a group biography listed above) lists 19 men who are known to have attended Thursday evening Inklings meetings (active mid-1930s to 1949). The list excludes guests such as E.R. Eddison and Roy Campbell. Most of these did not write fiction, but their memoirs, scholarship, and other nonfiction can be of interest to those exploring the Inklings’ thought. A complete list of books by the other Inklings may be found in A Handlist of Books by the Inklings by David Bratman. Important and pertinent books by the other Inklings include:

Owen Barfield (1898-1997) (philosopher and attorney)
The Silver Trumpet (children’s story) (1925) (Bookmakers Guild); Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning (1928) (Wesleyan University Press); Saving the Appearances (1957) (Wesleyan University Press); Owen Barfield on C.S. Lewis (1989) (Wesleyan University Press); A Barfield Sampler: Poetry and Fiction (1993) (SUNY Press); A Barfield Reader: Selections from the Writings of Owen Barfield (1999) (University Press of New England); Eager Spring (short novel) (2008) (Barfield Press)

Nevill Coghill (1899-1980) (professor of English Literature at Oxford University; producer of plays)
Translation of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (1952) (Penguin); The Collected Papers of Nevill Coghill, Shakespearian & Medievalist (1988) (St. Martin’s)

W.H. Lewis (1895-1973) (brother of C.S. Lewis; professional soldier and amateur historian)
The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV (1953) (Waveland Press); Brothers and Friends, diaries, an important source on the Inklings (1982) (HarperCollins)

Gervase Mathew (1905-1976) (lecturer in Byzantine studies at Oxford University)
Byzantine Aesthetics (1963) (HarperCollins); The Court of Richard II (1968) (Norton)

John Wain (1925-1994) (novelist, poet, dramatist, and critic; Professor of Poetry at Oxford University 1973-1978)
Sprightly Running: Part of an Autobiography, includes accounts of C.S. Lewis and the Inklings (1962) (St. Martins); much poetry, fiction, and criticism, all non-fantasy.

Essays by C.S. Lewis, W.H. Lewis, Tolkien, Barfield, Gervase Mathew, and Dorothy L. Sayers, together with an appreciation of Williams by C.S. Lewis, are included in Essays Presented to Charles Williams (1947) (Eerdmans).

Most of the remaining Inklings listed in Carpenter’s book wrote little, and of them only Dyson and Havard were central to the group. They are:

  • J.A.W. Bennett (1911-1981) C.S. Lewis’s successor as Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge (1964-1978)
  • Lord David Cecil (1902-1986) Professor of English Literature at Oxford; author of biographies of Max Beerbohm and Lord Melbourne
  • Jim Dundas-Grant (1896-1985) Commander of the Oxford University Naval Division
  • H.V.D. “Hugo” Dyson (1896-1975) Lecturer and tutor in English at Reading and Oxford Universities
  • Adam Fox (1883-1977) Profesor of Poetry at Oxford (1938-1943); Dean of Divinity at Magdalen College, Oxford; Canon of Westminster Abbey
  • Colin Hardie (1906-1998) Lecturer and tutor in Classics at Oxford
  • Robert E. Havard (1901-1985) Physician; author of the clinical appendix to C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain
  • R.B. McCallum (1898-1973) Lecturer and tutor in Modern History and Politics at Oxford
  • C.E. Stevens (1905-1976) Lecturer and tutor in Ancient History at Oxford
  • Christopher Tolkien (b. 1924) Lecturer and tutor in English Language at Oxford (to 1975); son of J.R.R. Tolkien and editor of his father’s posthumous works
  • C.L. Wrenn (1895-1969) Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford (1946-1963)

Dorothy L. Sayers, W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, and Roger Lancelyn Green, sometimes cited as Inklings, were friends of some of the Inklings but never members of the group. David Lindsay and T.H. White, also sometimes cited as Inklings, had no known connection with them.


Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957)

Not an Inkling, but a friend of Lewis and Williams and often read in the Mythopoeic Society.

Novels

(All Harper pb except as noted)
Whose Body? (1923); Clouds of Witness (1926); Unnatural Death (1927; also published as The Dawson Pedigree); The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928); The Documents in the Case, with Robert Eustace (1930); Strong Poison (1930); Five Red Herrings (1931); Have His Carcase (1932); Murder Must Advertise (1933); The Nine Tailors (1934) (Harcourt/Harvest pb); Gaudy Night (1935); Busman’s Honeymoon (1937); Thrones, Dominations, completed by Jill Paton Walsh (1998) (St. Martin’s pb); A Presumption of Death, by Jill Paton Walsh, based on Sayers’ articles “The Wimsey Papers” (2002) (St. Martin’s)

Short fiction

Lord Peter (1971) (Harper Perennial), the complete Wimsey short stories; The Wimsey Family (1977) (Harper; Avon pb), a fictional history by C.W. Scott-Giles compiled from correspondence with Sayers; The Travelling Rug, previously unpublished short story (2005) (Mythopoeic Press)

Poetry

Translation of The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, 3 vols. (1949-62) (Penguin pb); Translation of The Song of Roland (1957) (Penguin pb); Poetry of Dorothy L. Sayers (1996) (Dorothy L. Sayers Society/Marion E. Wade Center)

Drama

The Man Born to Be King (1943) (Ignatius Press); Love All, together with Busman’s Honeymoon, with Muriel St. Clare Byrne (1984) (Kent State University Press)

Essays, letters, etc.

The Mind of the Maker (1941) (Harper San Francisco); Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers, 4 vols. (1996-2000) (v. 1-2: St. Martin’s; v. 3-4: Dorothy L. Sayers Society); Sayers on Holmes (2001) (Mythopoeic Press); Child and Woman of Her Time (2002) (Carole Green Publishing), a supplement to the Letters including fragmentary works “My Edwardian Childhood” (memoir) and “Cat O’Mary” (novel)