I have received news from a credible source that Walter Hooper has passed away, following a brief illness. I have been working on a more significant reflection upon Walter Hooper’s legacy, but I wanted to leave a brief note for readers. While C.S. Lewis’ brother, Major Warren Lewis, edited the first volume of Lewis’ letters and has donated some papers to archives, and while other figures like fellow Inkling Owen Barfield and stepson Douglas Gresham were each critical in maintaining C.S. Lewis’ estate, no other figure has been as important to the Narnian’s literary legacy than Walter Hooper. Through the curation and editing of letters, essays, stories, and pieces nearly lost to time, we have a wealth of inexpensive and constantly-in-print materials. Readers and fans of C.S. Lewis are deeply in debt to Walter Hooper for nearly six decades of literary work.
I am not one of those folks who were very close to Walter–though I met him a couple of times. Lewis scholar Will Vaus once hosted a talk by Walter Hooper at the Kilns in Oxford, and I was able to take my family to enjoy the afternoon. And during my last visit to Oxford, Walter hosted me for tea in his home, where we spoke about Lewis’ literary legacy and some archival matters. He was an affable and generous host, though I was a little shy to dig into what he had yet to reveal of Lewis’ papers. I presume the greatest impression I left on him was that I was willing to share a cab with him to downtown Oxford! I am very curious to know who is the secretary to Lewis’ secretary–the one who will continue on the careful, slow-moving, tedious and beautiful work of archival publication in the future.
Best wishes to Walter’s close friends, many of who are in the C.S. Lewis community, or in his local Catholic community in Oxford. I hope to post within a couple of days an article that readers and scholars can use to think about Walter Hooper’s curation of Lewis’ legacy.