Now that I’m on sabbatical, projects have seemingly sprung up out of nowhere to keep me busy. One that has been in the back of my mind for a while has now taken a prominent place in my active imagination. I’ve always wanted to write something about C. S. Lewis. While reading a recent biography of him, I grabbed hold of an idea that I hope will come to fruition. I would like to assess, as much as possible, the impact Lewis has made on America and Americans individually. For some reason, America embraced him and his writings far more eagerly than his home nation of Britain. Why was that? How much documentation is there of his influence on Americans?
I thought that might be worth investigating, so since I was at Wheaton College this past week, I made sure to carve out some time to visit the Wade Center, which is a fantastic repository of all things C. S. Lewis and other key British authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and Dorothy Sayers. It’s really rather amazing that a small Christian college in America has all these treasures. Amazing . . . and a real blessing for researchers like me.
The Wade Center is not huge, but it is welcoming and very helpful to researchers. I was staying at a guest house on campus, and the Wade Center was just across the street, so this is what greeted me every time I left the guest house:
Where else, in America, can one go to see some original C. S. Lewis artifacts? For instance, here’s the desk he used both at Oxford and in his home later:
If you are wondering where he got the idea for children to walk into a wardrobe and then into a land called Narnia, perhaps you don’t need to look any further than this piece of furniture that belonged to him:
I even enjoyed viewing his teapot, tea cup, and pewter mug. How very British of him:
And there was the research room itself, a veritable sanctuary for those of us who love to immerse ourselves in musty manuscripts and really good books:
I found a place to call my own:
My time at the Wade was a time I could enter into another “world,” if only briefly. This was just the beginning stage of the research. Will a book result from this? Perhaps that’s where faith comes in.