Inkling's Child Recalls Legendary Writers
Ahmad Safi, St. Joseph News-Press
ATCHISON, Kan. — Mark Colin Havard was a shy, awkward teenager among Oxford men who would later become literary giants.
He would occasionally join his father at an informal university literary group called the “Inklings” — a play on words about people who played with ink. There, English writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien read their work and often drank draft Guinness beer.
Topics such as imaginative fiction, narrative and fantasy were discussed. Mr. Havard’s father, Dr. Robert Havard, was an Inkling and personal physician for Mr. Lewis and Mr. Tolkien.
The Inklings met in Mr. Lewis’ home for nearly 20 years starting in the early 1930s. The group was a men’s club and women were barred, Mr. Havard said Monday at Benedictine College during an evening of literary nostalgia.
“It didn’t matter how many women were around who read great books, they were never invited,” said Mr. Havard, who now lives in St. Louis. “It was strictly no girls allowed."
"He liked to disagree and see if he could out-argue the others,” Havard said of Lewis. "I definitely had the impression Lewis didn't particularly believe in what he was saying, he just wanted the argument."
Topics ranged from suicide to religion. Both men explored various Christian themes in their later writings.
Mr. Havard said Mr. Lewis would broach topics that would raise the hackles of Mr. Tolkien, who had a more reserved nature.
“He would say ‘What’s so bad about suicide?” Mr. Havard said of Mr. Lewis. “It was sort of a tease.”
Mr. Lewis is known for works such as “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Mr. Tolkien wrote “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.”
Ahmad Safi can be reached at email@example.com.
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