Whether you are new to C.S. Lewis and the Inklings or a long time reader, there are some resources spaces available that can augment your reading project. Researchers and biographers have learned to find the C.S. Lewis manuscript collections, but there are usually resources in these places for more than just the very few.
As part of my project of reading C.S. Lewis chronologically (you can find out why I did it here, and how you can do it too here), I visited some of these archives. They have also been part of conference trips and family vacation, places to dig in or read for long hours. I have also taken the to blog some of my archive experiences:
- “The Marion E. Wade Center: An Archive Review“
- “Another Awesome Day at The Wade“
- “A Cosmic Find in The Screwtape Letters“
- “On Pretending to be in a PhD“
- “A Review of “The Chapel of the Thorn,” a lost Charles Williams play by Sørina Higgins“
- “My First Hour at the Bodleian Library, Oxford“
- “A Guide to Doing C.S. Lewis Research at the Bodleian: From One Who Started Badly“
- “Adventures in Geekland: Book Collecting and C.S. Lewis“
- “Letters to an Oxonian Lady: C.S. Lewis’ Relationship with Mary Neylan“
- See also “Shedding Light on Lost Manuscripts: A Review of Charlie Starr’s “Light”“
Since I have had such a great experience at archives–and some of my friends and colleagues have found that archives have changed their entire career paths–I thought it would be a good idea to share this list with others. It is a living list, and meant to be completed by the archives and libraries you know. Make sure you share it as needed, and add suggestions in the comment section below.
C.S. Lewis Manuscript Collections
- The Bodleian Library, Oxford: The collection description is here, but is not very helpful if you haven’t been to the Bod. After my last visit I wrote this little article, “A Guide to Doing C.S. Lewis Research at the Bodleian: From One Who Started Badly.” I have phone pics of the table of contents and some of the listing titles of C.S. Lewis’ works. Feel free to contact me if you would like to see them for your own use.
- The Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton, IL: You can find a detailed listing of their manuscripts and typscripts here. They also have a library of 1st editions, a nearly complete collection of academic and popular writing about Lewis, and a large number of Lewis’ own books (which are sometimes marked up by him). The Bodleian and the Wade have a holograph sharing agreement, so photocopies of the original are housed at the other library. The Wade is also an archive for Tolkien, Williams, and the other Inklings.
- The Edwin W. Brown Collection, Taylor University, Upland, IN: A small but potent collection of Lewis 1st editions and rare manuscripts of letters and short pieces. They also have rare pieces from George MacDonald and Charles Williams, and a number of Inklings 1st editions. See here for the details. The collection is named for Dr. Edwin Brown, an avid collector who recently passed away. As he gathered together many true 1st editions and letters, I am not certain what will become of his literary estate.
- The Berg Collection, New York Public Library, New York, NY: A huge Anglo-American literary collection, including Charles Dickens’ writing desk. The Berg acquired the handwritten manuscript of the 31 Screwtape Letters from Sr. Penelope, as well as a few letters and notes.
- Smaller named collections or holdings:
- The C.S. Lewis Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: this is the Southern Historical Collection that includes the Walter Hooper Papers (letters to and from C.S. Lewis and the Inklings, as well as some notes)
- The C.S. Lewis Collection, Lanier Theological Library, Houston, TX: includes 1st editions, handwritten lectures and letters, and so Lewisiana.
- Harvard University Library, Boston, MA: includes letters and early book editions.
- The Inklings Fellowship has an extensive Inklings Collections available for exhibit. I think it is housed at Union University in Jackson, TN.
- There are letters to and from Lewis at the Written Archive Centre, BBC, the Anglican office at Lambeth Palace, the Princeton University Library, Queen’s University (Belfast), the University of Victoria (British Columbia), and Cambridge University Press.
I have had the pleasure to spend time at each of the four major holdings, but I have not been to any of the minor ones. If you have blogged about your experience in the archives, let me know so I can link it.
A broader category is the library that has an interest in C.S. Lewis–either as an Oxbridge scholar, fantasist, Christian apologist, or children’s author. Some of the reading rooms are quite accessible, while others are a challenge. This is only a partial list from my own knowledge. If you know of (or work at) a library or university with a space dedicated to C.S. Lewis, do let me know and I will link it. I have been fortunate to visit #s 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7.
- The Bodleian, Oxford, UK
- The Kilns, Oxford, UK
- The C.S. Lewis Reading Room, Queen’s University, Belfast, UK (is this still there?)
- The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy, Toronto, ON
- C.S. Lewis Reading Room, Tyndale University College & Seminary, Toronto, ON (includes an online reading room)
- The Edwin Brown Collection, Taylor University, Uplands, IN
- The Clyde S. Kilby Reading Room, Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton IL
- The Inklings Collection, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA (includes the Owen Barfield holdings)
- The C.S. Lewis Collection, Samford University Library, Birmingham, AL
- The C.S. Lewis Collection, The Trustee Library, Brenau University, Gainesville, GA
- The Rev. Perry C. Bramlett Collection, Jack Tarver Library, Mercer University (collection opened 21 March 2021)