Who Were the Inklings?

The Inklings are associated with many novels, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Chronicles of Narnia.
The Inklings are associated with many novels, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Chronicles of Narnia. | Source

Mythopoeia Literature

Mythopoeia literature is a genre that is highly associated with the works of the Inklings. The term "mythopoeia" was first used by Tolkien in the 1930's and describes a type of modern literature in which the author blends mythological themes and archetypes into fiction to create a modern myth. The main aim of mythopoeia literature is to imitate real-world mythology in modern literature.

Members of the Inklings

For nearly two decades, the informal literary discussion group, the Inklings, met to share a love of narrative fiction and encourage the ongoing process in writing fantasy novels, many of which are immensely popular today. With its close ties to the University of Oxford in England, it is no surprise that many members of the Inklings were Oxford academics. Regular members included:

  • J.R.R. "Tollers" Tolkien
  • C.S. "Jack" Lewis
  • Owen Barfield
  • Charles Williams
  • Christopher Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien's son)
  • Warren "Warnie" Lewis (Lewis's brother)
  • Roger Lacelyn Green
  • Adam Fox
  • Hugo Dyson
  • R.A. "Humphrey" Havard
  • J.A.W. Bennett
  • Lord David Cecil
  • Nevill Coghill

Along with these regular members of the Inklings, there were a few who attended meetings less frequently than those listed above. These members include:

  • Percy Bates
  • Charles Leslie Wrenn
  • Colin Hardie
  • James Dundas-Grant
  • John David Arnett
  • Jon Fromke
  • John Wain
  • R. B. McCallum
  • Gervase Mathew
  • C. E. Stevens
  • E. R. Eddison
  • Roy Campbell

J.R.R. Tolkien in 1916, at age 24.
J.R.R. Tolkien in 1916, at age 24. | Source

The Legacy of the Inklings

From the early 1930's until late 1949, the Inklings met and mostly discussed unfinished works by its members. These included the early workings of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet. All members were male, British, and affiliated with Oxford.

While you may expect a group of academics and great writers to be serious, especially considering the tone of some of their own works, the Inklings' meetings were completely informal. On the one hand, they read excepts of their works in progress out loud and provided encouragement, criticism, and advice for improvement, on the other hand, they amused themselves with competitions, such as seeing who could read notoriously bad prose of Amanda McKittrick Ros the longest without laughing.

In 2006, the Inklings were resurrected in Oxford with similar goals to the original group. Just like the original group, they meet Sunday nights at The Eagle and Child.

The Eagle and Child is the most famous meeting place for the Inklings.
The Eagle and Child is the most famous meeting place for the Inklings. | Source

The Meeting Place for the Inklings

The Inklings mostly met Thursday nights at C.S. Lewis's college rooms at Magdalen College. They would also gather Tuesdays at midday at the local pub, The Eagle and Child, also known as The Bird and the Baby or simply The Bird. While meetings were also held in other pubs, including The Lamb and Flag, The Baby is the most well known meeting place.

The Eagle and Child is still open today and can be found in St. Giles near Oxford. With its rich history, vibrant atmosphere, and delicious food, The Bird and the Baby is still a popular destination for many visitors. Although it has been opened since 1650, it is best known for its connection to the Inklings.

C.S. Lewis is also one of the more popular members of the Inkings.
C.S. Lewis is also one of the more popular members of the Inkings. | Source

The Inklings

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Famous Authors in the Inklings

The two most famous authors most commonly associated with the Inklings are J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The well known works of these men, as well as a few by other members, are what make the Inklings a major group in the history of the literature of the times. For those who may not know much about these authors, I have provided a very brief biography for each writer and list of their most well known works.

J.R.R. Tolkien

My personal all-time favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien, is best known for The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which have been made even more popular by their movie adaptations. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a writer, poet, philologist, and professor in his day. Born on January 3, 1892 in South Africa, he discovered a love of languages in his youth and even began constructing his own as early as his teens. The beloved creator of hobbits died November 29, 1971 of old age at 82.

A few of Tolkien's most well known works include:

The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings

The Silmarillion

The Book of Lost Tales


C.S. Lewis

A close friend of Tolkien, Clive Staples Lewis was born in Ireland on November 20, 1898 and died November 22, 1963. During his lifetime, he was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. He is well known both for his fictional work, such as the Chronicles of Narnia, and his Christian apologetics, like Mere Christianity.

Some of C.S. Lewis's most well known works include:

The Chronicles of Narnia

Mere Christianity

The Abolition of Man

The Problem of Pain

© 2013 LisaKoski

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1 comment

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rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

What a fascinating and interesting article on the Inklings! Wouldn't you have loved to have been a fly on the wall during those meetings and discussions!?! Wow, I can only imagine! I think my favourite is also J.R.R Tolkien. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose

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