The Inklings of Oxford University

The Inklings was a literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford. Among its members, mostly academics at the university, were J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Hugo Dyson, Robert Havard, Nevill Coghill, John Wain, and Warren "Warnie" Lewis (C. S. Lewis's older brother). It met from the middle of the 1930s until the late 1940s.

The Inklings were literary conservatives who praised the value of narrative in fiction and encouraged the writing of fantasy. Christian values are also notably reflected in their work. As was typical for university literary groups in their time and place, the Inklings were all male. The mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers, who is sometimes claimed as an Inkling, was a friend of Lewis and Williams, but never attended Inklings meetings.

Readings and discussions of the members' unfinished works was common in the group. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Lewis's
Out of the Silent Planet, and Williams's All Hallows Eve were among the novels first read to the Inklings.

Inklings readings and discussions were usually held on Thursday evenings in C. S. Lewis's college rooms at Magdalen College. The Inklings were also known to gather at a local pub, The Eagle and Child, known to them as The Bird and Baby. Contrary to common belief, they did not read their manuscripts in the pub. Later meetings were held at The Lamb and Flag across the street, but The Eagle and Child has kept the distinction of being their meeting place.

The name Inklings was originally associated with a club at University College, founded by the then undergraduate Edward Tangye Lean about 1931. It consisted of students and dons, among them Tolkien and Lewis. Members met to read aloud the unpublished compositions. When Lean left Oxford in 1933, the club died, and its name was transferred by Tolkien and Lewis to their group at Magdalen. On the connection between the two Inklings societies, Tolkien later said "although our habit was to read aloud compositions of various kinds (and lengths!), this association and its habit would in fact have come into being at that time, whether the original short-lived club had ever existed or not."

Related Reading
The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Their Friends by Humphrey Carpenter (1979), ISBN: 0395276284

Tolkien and Lewis: The Gift of Friendship by Collin Duriez (2003) ISBN: 1587680262

Christian Mythmakers: C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, J. R. R. Tolkien, George Macdonald, G. K. Chesterton and Others by Rolland Hein ISBN: 0940895315

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