Clive Sinclair Lewis and John Ronald Reuel Tolkien became members of a literary club called the Inklings. Although based out of Pembroke College, Oxford, the Inklings often preferred to hold meetings at a nearby pub called the Eagle and Child. Many other published writers and literary critics joined the Inklings, but none became as famous as C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.
Lewis preferred that friends like Tolkien call him Jack. Tolkien preferred to be called Tollers. The two worked as professors at the prestigious Oxford University and first encountered each other at an otherwise routine faculty meeting in 1926. Tolkien’s in-depth study of languages would greatly influence the creation of Elfish, Orcish and Hobbit languages in the Lord of the Rings series.
Lewis became an atheist in his early teens but dabbled with paganism before meeting Tolkien. Tolkien was a practicing and outspoken Catholic when he met Lewis. Both men were fascinated by the occult and mythologies of the world. Lewis claims that it was Tolkien who managed to convert Lewis into a Christian. Lewis decided to become an Anglican instead of a Catholic.
Lewis became one of the twentieth century’s leading Christian apologetics. His works explaining Christianity became required reading for followers of many Christian denominations on both sides of the Atlantic. Lewis turned Christianity into a profession, often appearing on radio and television to defend the faith in debates. Still, Lewis’s Christian writings resound with regret that Christian mythology wasn’t as exciting as Norse, Celtic or Greek mythology.
The Adult Audience
Both Lewis and Tolkien had published successful children’s books, but they wanted to reach an adult audience. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is vastly different in tone, vocabulary and scope than The Hobbit. Both men compared ideas for a series and where the series would be located. Lewis chose outer space and Tolkien chose to go back in time.
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