The Lost-But-Found Works of C.S. Lewis

beowulf manuscript nowell codex 3Once, I had a couple of hours in London before I had to catch a train up to Chester. I only know London through books and movie; no one will be surprised that Sherlock and Charles Dickens do not make perfect guides to modern London. Still, I read a station map and thought I could find my way from St. Pancras to Euston Station without an international incident.

In one of my great providential accidents of history I fell upon the British library. Wanting only to fill an hour or so on the walk, I wandered through the library and finally found my way into a little display room. I have literary instincts enough, I suppose, to suspect there was a treat at hand.

Nothing could have prepared me, however, for what I found. My eyes fell first on one of the great literary miracles of Western history: the Beowulf  manuscript, which is the greatest part of the Nowell Codex. Saved from fires and neglect and pasted in an exercise book, it was now just a sneeze guard away from my innocent eyes.

Beowulf_Manuscript nowell codex 2I could have considered London a win just for Beowulf, the story in the family tree of all our fantastic fiction and something like 20% of all we have on B. Beside Beowulf, though, was work by Austen and Dickens, sketches by Michelangelo, and the handwritten lyrics of “Yesderday.” There were letters from Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, orders by Churchill, the Magna Carta, and Codex Sinaiticus.

It was one of the most beautiful hours I have ever experienced.

We really do exist in a rich age of history and letters, with precious manuscripts and rare documents more and more available on display for unprepared gawkers. Now they are often online for readers and researchers alike.

tolkien beowulfThis is also true of C.S. Lewis’ works. As Christopher Tolkien (and some leading scholars) have brought a great deal of J.R.R. Tolkien’s unfinished and unpublished work to print—including his Beowulf translation and reams of Middle Earth legendaria—so Walter Hooper and invested scholars have been bringing C.S. Lewis’ unpublished and incomplete work to light. Don King has collected his poetry, and Walter Hooper has brought the vast majority of Lewis’ complete essays and available letters into a series of themed and sometimes overlapping volumes. The work they have done has saved us from scouring dozens of old sources for this material—a project most of us could never repeat.

Collected Poems of Cs Lewis don kingNow that letters, poems, and essays are available, I thought it would be helpful to list what we have available in various books and journals of C.S. Lewis’ unpublished work. Yes, this blog is for real researchers and true nerds and avid book lovers—if you couldn’t figure that out from the drool I left on the glass above the Beowulf manuscript.

Doubtless this list is incomplete. Let me know if there are materials that I simply haven’t found, and I will add them.

Previously Unpublished Manuscripts Now in Print

  • Walter Hooper, Past Watchful Dragons (1971). This includes:
    • “Outline of Narnian history so far as it is known,” 41-44.
    • “Plots”, 46 (rough sketch of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).
    • The Lefay Fragment,” 48-65.
    • “Eustace’s Diary,”68-71.
    • Illustrator Pauline Baynes-C.S. Lewis correspondence, 77-80.
  • Walter Hooper, The Dark Tower and Other Stories (1977). Includes the incomplete “The Dark Tower” from the WWII period, and another incomplete prose piece from the early 1960s. For my response to accusations of plagiarism, see here.
  • Patience Fetherston, “C.S. Lewis on Rationalism: (Unpublished Notes),” SEVEN 9 (1988): 87-90. This short piece is an addendum to an Aug 20th, 1945 letter to Patience Fetherston. It a short two pages Lewis lays out: 1) a summary of his argument that Rationalism/Naturalism is self-defeating (from Miracles); 2) the appeal to Naturalism that nature is cruel (developed from Mere Christianity); 3) a reduction of world religions to Hinduism and Christianity; 4) a caution on mysticism; and 5) a note suggestion the relationship of Revelation to Reason is like that of Sense Experience to Reason. Neither this letter nor the attached note are in the Collected Letters.
  • Don W. King, “Lost but Found: The ‘Missing’ Poems of C.S. Lewis’s Spirits in Bondage,” Christianity and Literature 2 (Winter 2004): 163-201. Includes 21 poems not published before, and now in King’s edited Collected Poems of C.S. Lewis.
  • Diana Pavlac Glyer includes a great deal of manuscript marginalia in The Company They Keep (2009). These are not all transcribed, but provides a good visual of what is available that we don’t get to see.
  • Steven A. Beebe, “Language and Human Nature (Manuscript Fragment),” SEVEN 27 (2010): 25-28. This lost book introduction is a fun recent discovery. See the introduction by Beebe in the same issue on pp. 7-24, and see the story of his discovery here.
  • David C. Downing and Bruce R. Johnson, “C.S. Lewis’s Unfinished ‘Easley Fragment’ and his Unfinished Journey,” SEVEN 28 (2011): 5-26. This is the first prose piece we have from Lewis in the 1920s.
  • Jonathan B. Himes, “A Matter of Time: C.S. Lewis’s Dark Tower Manuscript and Composition Process,” Mythlore3/4 (#113/114) (2011): 25–35. While this is not the publication of an original manuscript, it does deal with a dating issue, marginalia, and process. Note that there are responses to this piece, and predecessors. E.g., C.F. Jones, “The Literary Detective Computer Analysis of Stylistic Differences Between ‘The Dark Tower’ and C.S. Lewis’ Deep Space Trilogy,” Mythlore 15.3 (#57) (1988): 11–15.
  • A.T. Reyes, ed., C.S. Lewis’s Lost Aeneid: Arms and the Exile, ed. A.T. Reyes (Yale University Press, 2011). I have ordered this and so have not yet seen it. It is a treatment of an incomplete translation of the Aeneid by Lewis with commentary.
  • Charlie W. Starr, Light: C.S. Lewis’ First and Final Short Story (2012). Brings to print the short story “Light” and compares with the “Man Born Blind” manuscript and revisions, drawing conclusions about the dating of the pieces.
  • Joe R. Christopher, “C.S. Lewis’s Lost Arthurian Poem: A Conjectural Essay,” Inklings Forever 8 (2012): 1-11. This is perhaps a bit outside of this list as there is not a published manuscript, but thinking about fragments is interesting.
  • Brenton D.G. Dickieson, “The Unpublished Preface to C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters,” Notes & Queries2 (2013): 296-298. In this neat manuscript we see that C.S. Lewis had Dr. Ransom (of the science fiction books) discover and translate the Letters. I am hoping to present on the consequences of this find at the Taylor conference this summer.
  • Andrew Lazo, “Early Prose Joy: C.S. Lewis’s Early Draft of an Autobiographical Manuscript,” SEVEN 30 (2013): 13-49. See also Lazo’s introduction in the same issue, pp. 5-12. Lazo prepares the reader a year earlier in his “Correcting the Chronology: Some Implications of ‘Early Prose Joy,” SEVEN 29 (2012): 51-62.
  • Bruce R. Johnson, “C.S. Lewis and the BBC’s Brains Trust: A Study in Resiliency,” SEVEN 30 (2013): 67-92. Includes part of the transcription of a radio program of experts that included C.S. Lewis in May 1942. Lewis calls this one of his “lame defeats.” The article is an in-depth study of Lewis’ poor attempts at connecting to a popular audience during WWII, and includes some Q&A comments you will not have heard before.
  • Charlie W. Starr, “Two Pieces from C.S. Lewis’s ‘Moral Good’ Manuscript: A First Publication,” SEVEN 31 (2014): 30-62.
  • Norbert Feinendegen and Arend Smilde, “The ‘Great War’ of Owen Barfield and C.S. Lewis: Philosophical Writings (1927-1930),” Inklings Studies Supplement 1 (2015). Includes the “Great War” letters between Barfield and Lewis the late 1920s, a strong critical introduction, and a transcription and translation of the Greek text, “Biographia Theologica.”
  • Crystal Hurd, “Pudaita Pie: An Anthology,” SEVEN 32 (2015), forthcoming. Stay tuned for more details.
  • I have heard that someone is working on publishing the entirety of W.H. Lewis, “C.S. Lewis: A Biography,” a previously unpublishbeowulf manuscript nowell codexed manuscript from which the introduction to Letters of C.S. Lewis was redacted. Does anyone know who this is?

We are still a ways away from my dream: that the most important manuscripts be available in folio editions and online study versions (like the Codex Sinaiticus or Beowulf). Until then—or until we figure out whatever is holding up transporting technological development—this list can help people with library access to find the pieces they are missing in their C.S. Lewis reading project. Please feel free to add or edit in the comments below, and share this list to whomever would find it helpful.

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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31 Responses to The Lost-But-Found Works of C.S. Lewis

  1. Joanne Mawhinney says:

    Been there. Same experience. It would have been worth the whole trip just to see the Sinaiticus with my own eyes, and translate it with my own brain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wonderful! thanks prof : )


  3. Jared Lobdell says:

    If you’re interested in a conjectural construction/reconstruction of The Dark Tower see the chapter on the fragment in my book on the Scientifictional novels of CSL (2004)? [Published earlier in EXTRAPOLATION]


    • Thanks Jared. I have read this piece (the whole book). It wasn’t what I was aiming at here, but I have noted that your chapter takes seriously the “what if the Dark Tower is authentic” question, moving beyond the questions of authenticity toward testing the material itself. Am I correct in that?


  4. L.A. Smith says:

    Oh, the British Library. One of my most favourite places in the world. I tell anyone I know that is going to London that they HAVE to go see it.I left plenty of drool on the glass there too….especially on the display of the Lindisfarne Gospels. And the score of Handel’s Messiah. And the Shakespeare folios. And….seriously it was overwhelming. I could happily spend a day there. Or more.


    • We need an online club called “Glass Drool.” I don’t remember the SHakespeare folios–as you say, overwhelming. And the Lindisfarne Gospels weren’t out, unfortunately. I saw them first in “How the Irish Saved Civilization.”


  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    The Douglas Gilbert/Clyde S. Kilby volume, C.S. Lewis: Images of His World (Eerdmans, 1973: I refer to the “Third Reprinting May 1977”, in case that matters) has photographic plates of various MSS. on pages 15, 45, 98-105, 113, 117, 158, 188-89 – but I have not checked what has been published later elsewhere. Your reference to Diana Pavlac Glyer’s inclusion of marginalia made me think of it, as page 188 has some – but not what I remembered in my mind’s eye (which was a photo of marginalia in Lewis’s copy of Tolkien’s edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – so, I wonder where that’s reproduced?). To name another source, Michael Ward makes fascinating use of selected marginalia in Planet Narnia.


  6. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I haven’t been to the British Library in ages, but I was just as bowled over when I visited. As I remember it, I saw Codex Alexandrinus as well as Sinaiticus – and Oxyrhynchus papyri with a Jesus logion or two!

    (By the way, when did your comments go over to reverse chronological order?)


    • I don’t know what’s going on with my comments. People are having to get approved that have commented before too.
      I didn’t see Alexandrinus. I can’t spell Oxyrhynchus papyri, but I studied them a bit in school (reprints). I did not see them there, but saw the Isaiah scroll from the Dead Sea find in Jerusalem. 16 feet long. Wow.


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  8. downindc2014 says:

    Thanks for collecting these, Brenton. I would add my ” ‘The Dungeon of his Soul’: Lewis’s Unfinished Quest of Bleheris,” in SEVEN, Vol 15 (1998), pp. 37-54. This essay the summarizes this unfinished tale by the teenaged Lewis, quotes several key passages, and places the story in the context of Lewis’s spiritual journey at that point in his life.


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  11. Arend Smilde says:

    On the “Biography” by W. H. Lewis: ask Judith Wolfe. I think this is going to be the next Inklings Studies Supplement. If you have newver seen the original text yet, you’ll be astonished at the differences between it and the famous 1966 “Memoir”. It is precisely the most quoted passages which were invented by Christopher Derrick.


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