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C.S. Lewis and women

Found in a slim volume of verse a letter by the poet Herbert Palmer about an evening spent with C.S.Lewis. The book was A Sword in the Desert: a Book of Poems and Verses for the Present Times (Harrap 1946.)

It is a signed presentation copy: 'With best Birthday wishes to Edgar from Bert August 1946.' Edgar is unknown (so far.) Tipped in at the front is a handwritten signed letter from the author to Edgar written on a Tuesday (probably 1946). It reads thus:

Dear Edgar. I think I have remembered your birthday to date this year.

I spent very exciting evening with Lewis (in) the middle of June.He is not the ascetic people think – but a convivial Irishman. Looks something between a jolly priest and a country publican with a dash of St Francis thrown in. A very good poet too. Which means he has his feet very firm on the ground. We sat up till midnight reading our poems to one another. He doesn't like women - says all the women he knows are either 'saints or devils, – chiefly devils.Hell. I presume from his standpoint, is chiefly populated by women.

Love to Mary & Winifred, Bert.'

On the verso of the letter is a signed typed note from Lewis to Palmer written from Magdalen College, Oxford and dated 9th May 1946  consisting of about 20 words in which he confirms the day they are to meet. Palmer has CROSSED OUT the signature and the typing in ink, although they are still very legible. In about 1945-46 Palmer was responsible for introducing Lewis to Ruth Pitter, of whom Lewis said that if he was the kind of man who got married, he would have wanted to marry her. The book's printed dedication is to Robert Gathorne-Hardy, poet and botanist.

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One thought on “C.S. Lewis and women

  1. Dale Nelson

    CSL wasn’t testifying under oath when he made that remark (assuming it was reported accurately), so perhaps the comment should not be taken as a whole and considered statement of his belief and practice. At the least it should be balanced by the reminiscences of Lewis left by women, such as Jill Freud (nee Flewett). His Rather than being scared off from the reading of his imaginative writing by this remark, one might do well to pick up some of those books, such as Till we Have Faces, the narrator of which is a woman and whose other main characters also include women, and men seen unsparingly too.

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