Collection of autograph letters signed to the dedicatees of The Magician's Nephew.1963 Stock Code: 134030
NotesA remarkable and rich archive of 29 autograph letters from C. S. Lewis to the Kilmer children, dedicatees of The Magician's Nephew. This highly desirable archive is the most extensive collection of letters by Lewis to have come to market in recent years.
The letters, three of which are unpublished, were written over nine years from 1954 to 1963. Lewis's correspondence with the American family (ten children in all, of whom eight are mentioned in the first letter) began in when Lewis's most prolific American correspondent, the poet Mary Willis Shelburne (1895-1975), sent him a bundle of letters and drawings by the children related to the Narnia series. Their father, Kenton Kilmer, had assisted with the publication of a book of poetry by Mary Shelburne, and she was a family friend. Nicholas Kilmer later recalled: "Lewis was absurdly generous in his responses to our lettersWe could not believe then, and I still cannot believe, with what care he read and answered our letters, and how successfully he labored to find something in them to respond to" (Ford, Companion to Narnia). Lewis replied to each of the children's letters with comments on their pictures. He continued to correspond with them, and dedicated The Magician's Nephew, the penultimate volume of the Narnia books, to them.
The letters contain references to his Narnia books and other writings, advice on schooling, and discussions on religion, and include a significant comment on the fate of Susan in the series ("she is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But there is plenty of time for her to mend, and perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the endin her own way", 22 January 1957). Two of the boys, Hugh and Martin, continued a separate correspondence with Lewis as they grew up.
The letters formed the core of Lewis's book Letters to Children, published in 1985. "As Lewis was writing the first of his Narnian tales, he was certainly aware that Christianity had begun to slip quietly into his story. But it was only after reflection that he began to see 'how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralyzed much of my own religion in childhood. 'Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze feelings.... But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday School associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.' These concerns that filled Lewis's mind when he wrote his children's books were evident when he answered his letters from children. A kind man, he was never more compassionate than when he wrote to young people. He remembered well the fears, questions, and joys of childhood, and he understood his young correspondents. Lewis met them on 'common, universally human, ground' and they responded" (introduction, C. S. Lewis Letters to Children).
Together 56 items, comprising: 23 autograph letters signed and 6 typed notes signed (written from Magdalen College, Oxford; The Kilns, Kiln Lane, Headington Quarry, Oxford; and Magdalene College,Cambridge); and 27 of the original mailing envelopes, addressed to: 5201 North 16th Street, Arlington, VA; R.F.D. 4 Box 83, Vienna, VA; 411, Windover Avenue, Vienna, VA, USA; and Theological College, 401 Michigan Ave, Washington, D.C.
In excellent condition, the letters bright and clean, with folds for mailing; envelopes a little creased or soiled.
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