The Inklings of Oxford

The Inklings of Oxford

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by Harry Lee Poe, James Ray Veneman

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Oxford’s fabled streets echo with the names of such key figures in English history as Edmund Halley, John Wycliffe, and John and Charles Wesley. Of more recent times are those of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the other members of the renowned literary circle to which they belonged, the Inklings.

What would it be like to walk this medieval city’s


Oxford’s fabled streets echo with the names of such key figures in English history as Edmund Halley, John Wycliffe, and John and Charles Wesley. Of more recent times are those of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the other members of the renowned literary circle to which they belonged, the Inklings.

What would it be like to walk this medieval city’s narrow lanes in the company of such giants of Christian literature, to visit Magdalen College, where Lewis and Tolkien read aloud their works-in-progress to their friends, or the Eagle and Child pub, the Inklings’ favorite gathering place?

The lavish photography of this book will introduce you to the fascinating world of the Inklings, matching their words to the places where these friends discussed—and argued over—theology, philosophy, ancient Norse myth, and Old Icelandic, while writing stories that were to become classics of the faith.

The Inklings of Oxford will deepen your knowledge of and appreciation for this unique set of personalities. The book also features a helpful map section for taking walking tours of Oxford University and its environs.

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Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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The Inklings of Oxford

A Pictorial Account

By Harry Lee Poe
Copyright © 2009

Harry Lee Poe
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-28503-8

Chapter One Introduction

This book is not an ordinary book. It is both a picture book and a storybook. It tells all about a place and the friends who lived there. What makes the book special, though, is that it is not only about that place and those friends; it is also about you.

Everyone needs a special place all their own, even if they do not own it. Everyone needs friends who are always there, even if they are not there with us. What makes a place special for a person does not depend upon the place, but upon the person. What makes a person special is not so much the person, but the people who think they are special: their friends.

A person's high school or college may forever be the most special place because of the friends who made that place special. At an important time in life when people were changing from children into grownups, a few people shared in the amazing transformation. While the places where we live and work do not define us or determine who and what we will become, they do form the context in which we flourish, wither, or merely subsist. The places of our lives either nourish us or drain us. Places do not make us, but they provide the physical space in which we relate to the people who play such an important role, for good or ill, in shaping who we become. The special place of this book is the university and city of Oxford. The special people are a group of friends who lived there and called themselves the Inklings.

The City of Oxford

Oxford has been a remarkable place for a thousand years and has attracted fascinating people for each of those years. Around every corner and along every street, the echoes of its rich history abound. Walk under the Bridge of Sighs opposite the Bodleian Library, look to the left, and there stands the house, with its observation platform on top, where Edmund Halley made his astronomical observations and predicted the return of the comet named for him. Walk from Blackwell's Bookshop toward the church of St. Mary Magdalen, and in the center of Broad Street, just opposite Balliol College, lies a collection of white cobblestones that form a cross in the street to commemorate the spot where Archbishop Cranmer, Bishop Latimer, and Bishop Ridley were burned at the stake for the part they played in the reformation of the Church of England. Remnants of the old city wall still stand along the back side of Merton College, visible from Christ Church Meadow, and within the garden of New College, a reminder that King Charles I sought refuge within this fortified city during the English Civil War.

In this city in the fourteenth century, John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English and sent out his students, two by two, to preach the gospel. In this city Thomas Goodwin and John Owen, Puritan chaplains to Oliver Cromwell, headed Magdalen and Christ Church colleges during the Commonwealth. In this city George Whitfield, John Wesley, and Charles Wesley founded the Holy Club and began their personal pursuits of God that would blossom as the First Great Awakening.

In this city lived some of the most well-known characters of English literature. From Christ Church Meadow, Alice followed a rabbit down a hole into Wonderland. Along the banks of the Cherwell River, which flows into the Isis at Oxford, lived Ratty, Badger, Mole, and the wonderful Mr. Toad of Toad Hall. In this city, Harriet Vane finally accepted the marriage proposal of Lord Peter Wimsey, and here they married at St. Cross Church. One of Chaucer's springtime pilgrims to Canterbury set out from Oxford. Here Inspector Morse kept the peace and Bertie Wooster's cousins Eustice and Claude frittered away their college years.

Oxford is a city that sets its own course, regardless of how the rest of the world goes. The River Thames flows below Oxford and above Oxford, but through the city flows the River Isis. The big bell in Tom Tower of Christ Church College tolls at five minutes past the hour according to Greenwich Mean Time because reason insists that Oxford is five minutes later than Greenwich. Even though Magdalen College pronounces its name Maudlin, St. Mary Magdalen Church pronounces its name the same way it would be pronounced anywhere else in the English-speaking world, except Cambridge of course, which also adds a final "e."

Oxford belongs to pedestrians, who stroll the narrow alley that leads from the High Street back to the secluded plaza of Oriel and Corpus Christi or the twisting passage that winds around from the Bridge of Sighs past the thirteenth-century Turf Tavern and out to Holywell Street. Pedestrians know the cobblestones that pave the college quads and the round river rocks that pave the yard around the Radcliffe Camera between St. Mary the Virgin Church and the Bodleian Library. Pedestrians notice the displays in the shop windows along the High Street and sculpted heads atop the gateposts outside the Sheldonian Theatre. Pedestrians have the time to glance up at the heads and creatures that ornament the buildings of Magdalen College or to peek in the college gates


Excerpted from The Inklings of Oxford by Harry Lee Poe Copyright © 2009 by Harry Lee Poe. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author

Harry Lee Poe holds the Charles Colson Chair of Faith and Culture at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. The author of many books and articles on how the gospel intersects culture, Poe has written numerous articles on C. S. Lewis and co-edited C. S. Lewis Remembered.

James Ray Veneman serves as assistant professor and director of visual communication at Union University. He covered the efforts in Iraq, spending time in Baghdad and on board an aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean from which the book, A Greater Freedom, was produced. Other assignments include the days immediately following the World Trade Center attack and meetings in Cuba with Fidel Castro.

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The Inklings of Oxford: A Pictorial Account 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was very informative.  I used the Walking tour in the appendix.
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