The Inklings in Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography
compiled by David Bratman
This bibliography was originally the reading list for a paper on "The Inklings
in Fiction" that I gave at Mythcon
40 (Los Angeles, 2009). An earlier version was published in the January
2010 issue of Mythprint,
the monthly bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society.
By "The Inklings in Fiction" I mean depictions of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien,
Charles Williams, and their friends and colleagues as
characters in stories or novels. These come in three forms:
This list omits stories based on or inspired by
the Inklings' fiction, or stories in which the characters are reading or
have read the Inklings' books but have not met them in person,
except for one case where the characters are visiting an Inklings
landmark. These omissions are other extensive realms worth
- Characters who are, or purport to be, the Inklings themselves,
usually as heroes of fantasy adventures or making tiny cameo
appearances in stories with historical settings;
- Romans à clef, that is, stories whose characters are the Inklings
with the names and some identifying details changed;
- Characters who are not supposed to be the Inklings, but whose
personalities or character are, or are claimed to be, directly
based on them.
Relevant fiction by the Inklings themselves (Tolkien, Lewis, and Barfield) is covered thoroughly in Chapter 7 of The
Company They Keep by Diana Pavlac Glyer (Kent: Kent State University Press,
2007), to which reference is made below. However, self-portraits in works by the Inklings themselves are not
covered here, as an author's personality may be found embedded in all his works.
Thanks to those who have contributed items or otherwise helped with this list: Joe R. Christopher, Diana Pavlac Glyer, Janet Brennan Croft, Jason Fisher, John D. Rateliff, Wendell Wagner, Sherwood Smith, Brenda Clough, Don Williams, Ginger McElwee, William H. Stoddard, Valerie Estelle Frankel, Morgan Thomsen.
New accounts of the Inklings in fiction are published frequently. Let me know of any you have found.
- Allingham, Margery. More Work for the Undertaker. London:
Heinemann, 1949. Eric Routley (The Puritan Pleasures of the
Detective Story [London: Gollancz, 1972], p. 151) suggests that
Inspector Charles Luke in this mystery novel is based on Williams.
- Barfield, Owen. "Night Operation." Originally serialized 1983-84; reprinted in A Barfield Sampler (Albany: SUNY Press, 1993) and separately (U.K.: Barfield Press, 2008). Dystopian science fiction story featuring characters, Jon and Jak, whose relationship
of friendship through opposition resembles that of Barfield and Lewis (Glyer, p. 173-74).
- Barfield, Owen. This Ever Diverse Pair. Originally published as by G.A.L. Burgeon. London: Gollancz, 1950. Thinly fictionalized account of the author's life as a lawyer. Chapter 6 recounts his
dealings with the tax problems of a client's authorial royalties. Apart from the client's
name, Ramsden, this is apparently a straightforward factual account of a matter involving
C.S. Lewis (Glyer, p. 175-76).
- Barfield, Owen. Worlds Apart. London: Faber, 1963.
Novel in the form of a transcript of a long philosophical discussion among several
characters. Hunter, a theologian and ethicist, represents C.S. Lewis (Glyer, p. 174-75).
- Carpenter, Humphrey. The Inklings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.
This literary group biography is non-fiction, but includes a chapter (Part 3, chapter 3)
reconstructing the conversation at an imaginary typical Inklings meeting, with C.S. and W.H. Lewis, Tolkien,
Williams, and R.E. Havard in attendance.
- Carpenter, Humphrey. Tolkien: A Biography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
1977. Equivalently to The Inklings, but without dialogue, this biography illustrates its subject
with a chapter (Part 4, chapter 1) describing an imaginary but typical day in his
life from the early 1930s. This is before the Inklings, but Lewis and the other future
Inklings R.B. McCallum and Nevill Coghill are mentioned.
- Christie, Agatha. "Harlequin's Lane." In The Mysterious Mr. Quin. London: Collins, 1930. Grevel Lindop (Charles Williams and His Contemporaries, ed. Bray & Sturch [Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2009], p. 14) finds a critical portrait of Williams in the composer Claude Wickham of this story, and a parallel to Descent into Hell's play rehearsal in the story's opera-rehearsal plot.
- Clough, Brenda W. "Escape Hatch." Paradox 3, Autumn 2003. Reprinted in Book View Cafe. Short story in which C.S. Lewis, in the trenches in World War I, has a glimpse of Faerie and is introduced to Tolkien through the unlikely offices of James Joyce.
- Crispin, Edmund. The Case of the Gilded Fly. London: Gollancz, 1944.
John Heath-Stubbs (Inklings Jahrbuch 5 , p. 68) and Grevel Lindop (p. 13) suggest that
the playwright Robert Warner in this mystery novel is based on Williams. (Probably less seriously, a character in Philip Larkin's "Michaelmas Term at St. Bride's" [q.v.] claims that the detective, Gervase Fen, an English professor at Oxford, is a "horribly malicious ... caricature of [C.S.] Lewis.")
- Crispin, Edmund. Swan Song. London: Gollancz, 1947. Mystery novel
with an Inklings cameo. In chapter 8 the detective sits in the Bird
and Baby and notes C.S. Lewis walking by; "it must be Tuesday."
Notable as a contemporary reference, made while the Inklings were still meeting there.
- Dexter, Colin. The Secret of Annexe 3. New York: St. Martin's, 1986.
Mystery novel with an Inklings reference: the detectives sit in the
Bird and Baby and read the Inklings plaque (p. 71).
- Doran, T.M. Toward the Gleam. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. "Secret history" novel about a professor in England who finds a manuscript revealing an unknown ancient civilization. This plunges him into adventures. According to reports, the protagonist is based on Tolkien, and a Lewis-based character appears among his friends.
- Downing, David C. Looking for the King. San Francisco: Ignatius
Press, 2010. "Secret history" adventure novel by a Lewis scholar. Lewis, Williams, and Tolkien become mentors and information sources for two young Americans looking for Arthurian artifacts around England in 1940. Other Inklings (Havard and Hugo Dyson) appear in a scene set at an Inklings pub meeting.
- Egan, Greg. "Oracle." Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, July
2000. Reprinted in The Year's Best Science Fiction, Eighteenth Annual
Collection, ed. Gardner Dozois (New York: St. Martin's/Griffin,
2001), and in Year's Best SF 6, ed. David G. Hartwell (New York: Eos,
2001). Science fiction story about a debate between characters
identical to Alan Turing and C.S. Lewis on the question, "Can
Machines Think?" The Lewis character uses not his own arguments but ones
borrowed from (an unidentified) Roger Penrose.
- Eliot, T.S. The Cocktail Party. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1950. Stephen
Medcalf (CW 100, Autumn 2001, p. 45-46) suggests that the
Unidentified Guest, a psychiatrist with remarkable human
insights, in this play is based on Williams.
- Fleischer, Leonore. Shadowlands. New York: Signet, 1993. Novelization
of William Nicholson's screenplay for the film of the same title on
the love between C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham.
- Harris, Micah (writer) and Michael Gaydos (artist). Heaven's War.
Orange: Image Comics, 2003. Supernatural adventure story in
graphic novel form. Williams, bringing Tolkien and Lewis along
for the ride, takes part in a secret war between the mystics A.E.
Waite and Aleister Crowley.
- Hillard, Steve. Mirkwood. Austin: Cruel Rune, 2010. Reportedly a story of Tolkien as a WW2-era spy, protecting documents telling of heroic female hobbits in ancient Middle-earth. C.S. Lewis also appears.
- Hopkins, Gerard. Nor Fish Nor Flesh. London: Gollancz, 1933. Novel
by a colleague of Charles Williams's at the Oxford University
Press. A novelist (based on the author) mentors a young painter,
Peter Meriden (based on Williams), and becomes his rival in love.
The real-life background to this book is discussed concisely in
Bernadette Lynn Bosky's introduction to Williams's The Masques
of Amen House (Altadena: Mythopoeic Press, 2000), p. 12-16.
- Jeschke, Melanie M. Inklings, Expectations, and Evasions. Eugene:
Harvest House, 2002-06. Vols. 1-3 of "The Oxford Chronicles,"
Christian romance novels. Vols. 1-2 are set among Lewis fans in
Oxford in the mid 1960s. Lewis by this time is dead, but Tolkien
makes a cameo appearance. Vol. 3 is largely a flashback to a
World War II evacuee living with the Lewis brothers in their
home, The Kilns. A further sequel, Intentions, apparently not
published separately but included in the Harvest House edition
of Inklings, is set in Cambridge, but I have not read it and have no
- King, Laurie R. A Letter of Mary. New York: St. Martin's, 1996.
Mystery novel with an Inklings cameo, taking place in 1923. The
detective, Mary Russell, reports on meeting Tolkien in Oxford (p.
- Kreeft, Peter. Between Heaven and Hell. Downers Grove, IL:
InterVarsity Press, 1982. Rev. ed., Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2008. The shade
of C.S. Lewis meets those of John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley - who died on the
same day as he - in a featureless limbo, and lectures them on the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
- LePore, James, and Carlos Davis. No Dawn for Men. Stamford, CT: Story Plant, 2013. Tolkien visits Nazi Germany in 1938 to spy for the British government, using negotiations to publish The Hobbit in German as a cover. (See Tolkien's Letters nos. 29-30. Apparently the authors are under the false impression that Tolkien actually went.) Ian Fleming is equally vigorously fictionalized as Tolkien's colleague in espionage.
- Larkin, Philip. "Michaelmas Term at St. Bride's." In Trouble at Willow Gables and Other Fictions, London: Faber and Faber, 2002. Written 1943 and posthumously published. Oxford campus story including running speculations by the characters as to the authorship of the pseudonymous real-world mystery novel The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin (actually by Larkin's classmate Bruce Montgomery). C.S. Lewis, Nevill Coghill, and Lord David Cecil are among the nominees; Lewis is also proposed as the original of Crispin's professor-detective.
- Lewis, C.S. Out of the Silent Planet. London: Bodley Head, 1938.
First of Lewis's Space trilogy. As the hero, Elwin Ransom, is a philologist, as Tolkien was, some have
suggested that he is inspired by Tolkien, who recognized some of his ideas
expressed by Ransom (Glyer, p. 171).
- Lewis, C.S. Perelandra. London: Bodley Head, 1943.
Second of Lewis's Space trilogy. In chapter 2, a cameo reference to a doctor named Humphrey, the nickname of
Lewis's own physician and a member of the Inklings, R.E. Havard. Also mentions the anthroposophist
"B.," a reference to Owen Barfield.
- Lewis, C.S. That Hideous Strength. London: Bodley Head, 1945.
Third of Lewis's Space trilogy. In this Charles Williams-like "spiritual shocker" of a novel,
Ransom, as a magnetic spiritual leader, is
seen by many as a portrait of Williams himself. The Inkling Gervase Mathew
suggests he shows elements of Tolkien and Owen Barfield as well. Cecil Dimble, a don and one
of Ransom's followers, resembles Tolkien in his interest and concern for mythology and nature (Glyer, p. 172-73).
- Lewis, C.S. The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader." London: Bles, 1952.
Volume 3 (not 5, as incorrectly renumbered) of "The Chronicles of Narnia." There have been suggestions that
the "retired star" Ramandu in this children's novel embodies Barfield's ideas of reincarnation (Glyer, p. 201).
- Magrs, Paul. Mad Dogs and Englishmen. London: BBC Publications,
2002. A Dr. Who novel. The Doctor travels to 1940s Cambridge to
attend a meeting of "The Smudgelings," highly irreverent
caricatures of the Inklings who get caught up in interplanetary
intrigue among sinister intelligent dogs.
- Morris, Jonathan (writer) and Rob Davis (artist). The Professor, the Queen and the Bookshop. In Doctor Who Magazine 429, 2011. The Doctor gives Lewis a book by the same title, which inspires Narnia. Also features Tolkien under the name John.
- Morrow, James. Blameless in Abaddon. New York: Harcourt Brace,
1996. Satirical fantasy novel about a man who sues God for
allowing evil and pain in the world. God's defense attorney, G.F.
Lovett, is a thinly disguised C.S. Lewis. Caustic, but Lovett is
allowed to put up a stout defense. Lovett has a brother who is an equally thinly disguised W.H. Lewis.
- Nicholson, D.H.S. The Marriage-Craft. London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1924. Grevel Lindop (p. 14-15) says that Williams is the inspiration for Ronald, a man with unconventional theories about sex and marriage, in this novel. Nicholson was a friend of Williams; if the reference is correct, this is the earliest known example of an Inkling in fiction.
- Norman, Philip. Everyone's Gone to the Moon. New York: Random
House, 1995. Autobiographical novel of a journalist who
(offstage) interviews Tolkien, as the author once did.
- Owen, James A. "The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica."
Seven volumes: Here, There Be Dragons,
The Search for the Red Dragon, The Indigo King, The Shadow
Dragons, The Dragon's Apprentice, The Dragons of Winter, and The First Dragon.
New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006-13. Over the
course of their lives, Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams repeatedly
travel into an alternate world of myth and story which feeds their
own imaginations. The most extensive Inklings-in-fiction to date.
The author was Guest of Honor at Mythcon 40 in 2009.
- Ridpath, Michael. Where the Shadows Lie. London: Corvus, 2010. Murder mystery, set in Iceland, with an Inklings reference. The murder is connected to a lost "ancient manuscript containing a long-lost saga about a ring of terrible power" that is said to have inspired Tolkien.
- Robinson, Robert. Landscape with Dead Dons. London: Gollancz, 1956. Comic murder mystery, set in Oxford, with an Inklings reference. A newly-discovered poem attributed to Chaucer is described as having been evaluated by Chaucer scholars, among whom Coghill and Lewis are named (chapter 9).
- St. Germain, Mark. Freud's Last Session. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 2010. Drama, first produced 2009. Two-character play in which C.S. Lewis visits Dr. Freud on the day World War II breaks out, for a discussion of belief and atheism.
- Stewart, J.I.M. Young Pattullo, A Memorial Service, and The Madonna of
the Astrolabe. London: Gollancz, 1975-77. Vols. 2-4 of his five-volume
"A Staircase in Surrey" sequence of novels. Duncan
Pattullo, in vol. 2 a 1940s Oxford undergraduate, in vols. 3-4 a
1970s Oxford don, interacts with various university characters,
including, in these three volumes, his Anglo-Saxon tutor, J.B.
Timbermill, a fond but eccentric caricature of Tolkien.
- Stewart, Mahonri. The Fading Flower and Swallow the Sun: Two Plays. Provo, Utah: Zarahemla Books, 2012. "Swallow the Sun" is a dramatization of C.S. Lewis's conversion, following his life from his meeting with Janie and Paddy Moore to his 1931 conversation with Tolkien and Dyson. Barfield also appears, in another scene, but apparently (from reviews of performances) W.H. Lewis does not. Based mostly on Surprised by Joy, with a portrait of the Inklings little sullied by historical research.
- Tayler, R.J., and J.R. Shakeshaft (as R.J. Tinker and J.R. Crankshaft).
"Meeting of the Royal Astrological Society." The
Observatory, June 1974. Parody of the proceedings of a
scientific meeting, including a report by Professor
J.R.R. Talking on astronomical research in Middle-earth.
- Thomsen, Brian M. "Beowulf and the Master of His Critics." In The Further Adventures of Beowulf, New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006. Guy Burgess visits Tolkien in 1936 in an attempt to recruit him, as a Beowulf scholar, into a Nazi-sponsored project to promote German culture. Presented as a frame story around new Beowulf-sequel stories by various authors which compose this anthology, purportedly translations of ancient texts Burgess had sent Tolkien.
- Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. London: Allen & Unwin, 1954-55.
The voice of Treebeard (who
primarily appears in vol. 2, The Two Towers) is said by Humphrey Carpenter
to be based on the voice of C.S. Lewis (Glyer, p. 173).
- Tolkien, J.R.R. The Notion Club Papers. In Sauron Defeated,
London: HarperCollins, 1992.
Incomplete fragmentary novel giving reports on the meetings of a literary club of
Oxford dons inspired by the Inklings. Some identifications of the members of the
Notion Club with the Inklings are given in a note by the author (described on p. 150-52),
and some of these, and some others Tolkien does not identify, match known biographical facts or personality traits
of specific Inklings. Discussed briefly by Glyer (p. 185-87).
- Velarde, Robert. Conversations with C.S. Lewis.
Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2008. The shade of C.S. Lewis visits the
narrator and takes him on a guided tour through his life, his works, and his
religious philosophy. Tolkien, Williams, W.H. Lewis, and Hugo Dyson appear in the
Addison's Walk and Inklings meeting (in the pub, not the college) scenes.
- Williams, Donald T. "An Unexpected Meeting." The
Lamp-Post, Spring 2005 (published 2007).
Vignette. The shades of Lewis and Tolkien
visit the author to encourage him in his
Inklings II writing group.
- Wilson, A.N. Love Unknown. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1986. Contemporary novel with an Inklings reference. In chapter 2, Williams is mentioned as having been a friend of one of the characters, Madge Cruden, during WW2 when she was a publisher and literary hostess.
- Wright, John C. Old Men Shall Dream Dreams. The only (mostly) fictional book on this list: the opening scene was concocted in 2011 to illustrate a point in a writing lesson in John C. Wright's Journal. If the novel existed, it would depict Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams as "secretly involved in a British project to investigate Nazi interest in the occult ... some of the material in their famous books was, of course, a reflection of some real things their work for the government ran into, but were not allowed to reveal due to the Official Secrets Act." The written scene, set during World War II, depicts two fictional characters examining the body of an assassinated hobbit.
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