No literary group has more shaped my imagination than the Inklings. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and friends, were a larger-than-life, once-in-a-lifetime, kind of creative crew. Deeply committed to the Christian worldview, highly educated, gifted, compassionate, et cetera, the list of their qualities that have lead to their impact goes on and on.
At the heart of the group was Lewis and Tolkien who met weekly, often at the Eagle and Child Pub, for pipes, pints, and publications. G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers are often associated with them in terms of similar influence and interests, though they were not part of the weekly meetings. These four, Chesterton, Sayers, Tolkien, and Lewis, are the inspiration behind the owls in my worldview novellas The Owlings. You can get my latest installment The Owlings: Book Two on Amazon here.
Here’s a starters guide to reading these great British authors:
I. C.S. Lewis (inspiration for the owl Clive in The Owlings)
I like to recommend couplets of Lewis’s writings to my students to give them a contrast in his approach. Read Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters together, two very different avenues he used for presenting the Christian worldview. The next couplet I recommend is not as well known, though two of my favs. Read Miracles and ‘Til We Have Faces together for another delightful contrast. Additionally, I cannot recommend highly enough the reading of Lewis’s letters. They are rich in content.
II. J.R.R. Tolkien (inspiration for the owl Reuel in The Owlings)
Tolkien is best known for his trilogy based on the Hobbit. One cannot go wrong starting here, but plan for a lengthy adventure through Middle Earth. For a more leisurely introduction, I like to recommend his children stories like Mr. Bliss or Smith of Wooton Major. Tolkien was inspirational father in so many ways. His Letters from Father Christmas that he made for his children motivated me to begin a similar annual tradition of my own “The Chronicles of Father Christmas” that I write and illustrate for my kids to read on Christmas Eve each year.
III. Dorothy Sayers (inspiration for the owl Dorothy in The Owlings)
Sayers is remembered for her detective stories affectionally called The Wimsey Novels. But my favorite Sayers’ works are her apologetic pieces like The Mind of the Maker, her play The Man Born to Be King, and her essays like Creed or Chaos. Her little booklet The Lost Tools of Learning is a helpful resource for parents of young children considering educational priorities.
IV. G.K. Chesterton (inspiration for the owl Gilbert in The Owlings)
As with Lewis, I like to recommend couplets for Chesterton. Those new to the literary giant known by his initials G.K.C., should begin with his book The Everlasting Man that famously contributed to C.S. Lewis’s departure from atheism. This book pairs nicely with Chesterton’s novel The Ball and the Cross, a story about a theist and an atheist who start out trying to kill each other before becoming dear friends. The next grouping I’d recommend would be to toggle between Chesterton’s essays and his poetry, a colorful tour of his joyfully simple and paradoxically complex view of the world.
With little time before Christmas, you might want to pass along a couple titles from this list to anyone looking for stocking stuffer ideas. Books make great gifts, the best in my humble but accurate opinion. And if you’re giving literature, something by the Inklings is a great place to start.
And if you are curious as to what these literary powerhouses look like in animal form, check out my first book The Owlings: A Worldview Novella or the recently published The Owlings: Book Two. Thanks to all who’ve supported this project helping it to reach #2 in new releases in genre on Amazon. Please help me continue to spread the word. If you’d like to help promote the book consider posting (copy/paste) something like this on social media: