Walter Hooper, an American who went to visit C. S. Lewis in 1963 unexpectedly grew so close to him that during the summer months he ended up serving as his private secretary. Lewis invited him to return to England in 1964 to take up the position permanently. Lewis’s death in November 1963 seemed to end Hooper’s dream of renewing that role, but he shortly after became the primary literary agent for all of Lewis’s works, a role he has maintained up to the present day.
Hooper shares some stories about his time with Lewis in what he considers to have been the best summer of his life. He likes to showcase Lewis’s sense of humor. One instance, in particular, had Hooper’s reliance on Lewis’s writings as the focus of the humor. Hooper relates,
Sometimes I was the occasion of his humour. It was evident to everyone I knew, and now even C. S. Lewis, that I could hardly speak without making use of Lewis’s thought, and giving full credit to Lewis with my constant refrain of “As C.S. Lewis has said.” After we’d come to know one another he invited me to call him “Jack,” and for a while he was almost like two people to me: the author of my favourite books, and Jack Lewis the friend who would never speak of his own work unless pressed. Quoting one of his books one day, I suddenly realised how it must sound to him. “As C. S. Lewis has said,” I said, “Oh, but you are C. S. Lewis!” Thereafter he made it a joke between us, and whenever he wanted anything done, he might say, “As C. S. Lewis has said ‘I would like a pot of tea.’ As C. S. Lewis has said, ‘You will go and make it.’ As C. S.Lewis has said, ‘I will drink it!’
On another occasion, Lewis made a comment that revealed both a wry sense of humor combined with a sense of eternal tragedy:
I told Lewis about that newspaper column that was very popular when I was growing up. It was called Ripley’s “Believe it or Not,” and I told Lewis about the grave of an unbeliever whose epitaph was, “Here lies an atheist, all dressed up but with nowhere to go.” Lewis replied, “I bet he wishes that were so.”
For me, my study of C. S. Lewis has provided countless hours of fascination. I’ve written three chapters of my proposed book and am actively working on chapter four. All prayers for this will be gratefully accepted.