Friday, September 24, 2004


On this day:

1952 - Lewis meets Joy Gresham for the first time, over lunch at the Eastgate Hotel, Oxford.

Can it be possible
That joy flows through and, when the course is run
It leaves no change, no mark on us to tell
Its passing? And as poor as we've begun
We end the richest day? What we have won
Can it all die like this? ...Joy flickers on
The razor-edge of the present and is gone.
~C.S. Lewis, Narrative Poems, "Dymer" (1st pub. 1926), verse 10

"We feasted on love; every mode of it, solemn and merry, romantic and realistic, sometimes as dramatic as the thunderstorm, sometimes comfortable and unemphatic as putting on your soft slippers. She was my pupil, my teacher, my subject and my sovereign, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier. My mistress, but at the same time all that any man friend has ever been to me."
~C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (1961)

10 Comment(s):

At Fri Sep 24, 07:06:00 AM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

First, the obligatory cooing. Awwwwwwwwwww. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.


It's really quite strange how Lewis's poem from 1926 will come back to haunt him, or, rather, literally turns out to be true.

And as for the passage from A Grief Observed, what needs to be said about it? Of course Lewis and Joy would have fought, but I think that the relationship described here is an ideal.

And, by the way, what happened to her children after she passed away? Did they go back to their dad or were they legally Lewis's charges?

And Joy was very pretty. She looks a little bit like my mom, which is really weird. It must be the Mediterranean/ Jewish thing.

At Fri Sep 24, 07:37:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I found this on the C.S. Lewis Centenary Group site, from an interview with Douglas Gresham:

"Douglas Gresham writes: I can only speak for myself, as David left to lead his own life quite early, and I do not know the details of where he went or what he did.

Q. What happened to the boys (Douglas and David) after Joy's death?

DHG: As for myself, I stayed at The Kilns with Jack and Warnie until Jack died in 1963 and then went to live with my mother's best friend who offered me a home. I stayed there until 1967 when I married and emigrated to Australia. For the full story read "Lenten Lands: My childhood with Joy Davidman and C.S.Lewis" (Harper San Francisco). Today, together with my wife Merrie, I run Rathvinden Ministries, a non-denominational counselling and healing ministry in Ireland."

Here is a link to the Centenary Group's site.

At Fri Sep 24, 05:00:00 PM EST, Blogger Anamire said...

And now for some more obligatory cooing: Awwww! What a loving relationship they must have had!

So, forgive my ignorance, but were Joy and Lewis married? From Sandi's post, it seems maybe she had children with another man.

At Fri Sep 24, 05:41:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Fri Sep 24, 05:52:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

D'oh! Sorry for the post I deleted! I did it again, I confused Amatire with Anamire. *slaps self*

Yes, Anamire, Joy Gresham was previously married and had two boys. She was also Jewish, but converted to Christianity partly as a result of reading Lewis's books. Here is a piece of the bio from

On April 23, he entered into a civil marriage with Joy at the Oxford Registry Office for the purpose of conferring upon her the status of British citizenship in order to prevent her threatened deportation by British migration authorities. In December, a bedside marriage was performed in accordance with the rites of the Church of England in Wingfield Hospital. Joy's death was thought to be imminent because of bone cancer. Joy had converted to Christianity from Judaism in 1948 partly under the influence of Lewis's books and divorced in 1953 due to her husband's desertion.

1958 Throughout 1957, Joy had experienced an extraordinary recovery from her near terminal bout with cancer. In July of 1958, Jack and Joy went to Ireland for a 10-day holiday. On August 19 and 20, he made tapes of ten talks on The Four Loves in London. Lewis was elected an Honorary Fellow of University College, Oxford. "Reflections on the Psalms" was published.

1960 Subsequent to learning of the return of Joy's cancer, Jack and Joy, together with Roger Lancelyn Green and his wife, Joy, went to Greece from April 3 to April 14, visiting Athens, Mycenae, Rhodes, Herakleon, and Knossos. There was a one-day stop in Pisa on the return. Joy died on July 13 at the age of 45, not long after their return from Greece. "Studies in Words" and "The Four Loves" were published."

Hope that helps, Anamire.

(I'm going to get the both of you straight in my mind eventually!)

At Fri Sep 24, 05:59:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Oh, and has everyone been watching the ebay auction on that first edition "The Silver Chair"? The bids are up to $1,232.95. (of course a first edition The Hobbit is for sale at $85,000 right now)

One other comment, since I'm making lots of them on this post--

"Joy flickers on
The razor-edge of the present and is gone"

Whoa. That is soooo deep, don't you think? *ponders*

At Fri Sep 24, 09:26:00 PM EST, Blogger Anamire said...

Thanks for that, Arevanye. That helps a lot. Don't worry about the mix-ups. :)

At Fri Sep 24, 10:17:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

Of course, the thing about that marriage was that it wasn't actually legal in the Church of England or whatever sect Lewis followed because Joy had been married once before and that marriage was still valid.

Of course, if, while you were abroad, and your alchoholic husband left you for your sister or cousin (can't remember which)who was supposed to be taking care of your family, then I think that's perfectly good grounds to get a divorce.

I forget why Joy was in England in the first place but she had just published a book seriously criticizing America, and, while it wasn't exactly a best seller, it was pretty well-known so she couldn't go back to the U.S. so soon. And then there was the thing with her husband. Oy vey. She had to leave a nice little farmhouse in Long Island for true love, which is a nice exchange.

Another interesting note about the first wedding of Lewis and Joy is that they signed a contract that the marriage was performed as an act of charity, not because they loved each other (hah!), so when the time came for the two actually get married, Lewis had to pull a lot of legs for someone to perform the ceremony.

We know so much about Lewis's personality, but what about Joy's? She seemed like a very corageous, independent, and daring person to me.

At Fri Sep 24, 10:27:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

You know, the other thing that might be interesting to you, Anamire, is the fact that Lewis didn't tell his friend J.R.R.Tolkien about his marriage. Most certainly because he knew that Tolkien would disapprove of his marrying a divorcee. I think that someone else finally wrote to Tolkien and told him.

When Joy was in the hospital (I think for the last time), it just so happened that Tolkien's wife was in the same hospital (am I getting this right, Sandi?). Tolkien and his wife were finally able to meet Joy, and I guess they all made amends. Or so they say. But I don't think Lewis's and Tolkien's relationship was ever as close as it was at the beginning.

At Sun Sep 26, 11:57:00 AM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

Really? I didn't know about that.

I think that by the time Joy came around, they weren't as close, for whatever reason. I'm not sure if the couples ever met. There's a letter in the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien where someone asked if Tolkien knew what was happening with Lewis and Joy and he said he didn't know. The ironic thing was that the letter was written the day the two got married!

I'm sure Tolkien found out when it was mentioned in the nuptials. lol. I can see it now...


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