Following the idea that ‘autumn is the new spring’ – or even the ‘new’ New Year – I’ve been re-reading old magazines recently and finding that I hadn’t actually read them all the way through the first time.
Through revisiting their gorgeous, thick, square pages I’ve now discovered: The Inklings.
An informal discussion group who met weekly in the local pub, ‘The Inklings’ were students/alumni – and their friends – of the University of Oxford in the 1930’s and 40’s, right up to the early sixties.
Here I’ve doctored the pages from the magazine to create my own memory of the Inklings; from the plaque on the wall honouring famous members: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams, to a cut-out ‘found’ poem using words and phrases from the original article, by Peter Holthusen.
The Rabbit Room:
a wealth of stories
old Oxford eccentrics,
have drunk your health.
The Eagle and Child
a framed hand-written
The Rabbit Room was a private room in the back of The Eagle and Child pub where the Inklings would meet. I love the connotation of it being akin to a secret, literary warren of discussion; the main purpose of the group being to read and critique their unfinished works in progress.
There were no rules, officers, agendas, or formal elections. And as was typical for university literary groups in their time and place, the Inklings were all male.
How many of our current ‘literary salons’, groups and meetings will be remembered in this way? How likely is it to get such a group of talent in the same place, in the same room, talking and sharing as friends, now? Is it all online and hidden away in private social media groups?
I’d like to think not…but I think that’s just my nostalgic side hoping beyond hope…
The article also included a copy of a letter written by (Professor) J.R.R. Tolkien, discussing his reasons for writing ‘The Lord of the Rings’:
I wrote The Lord of the Rings because I wished to try my hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them.
I think he achieved his goal, and then some.
Seeing that glorious, almost calligraphic handwriting reminds me just how important handwriting my own journal and letters to friends, is to me.
Fonts and type and electronic messages are essential in the modern world, but how nice to return to the nostalgia of that bygone time; all those now-famous budding authors under one roof as they toiled over books known now the world over.
Discovering new treasure in something old is also a nice surprise.
Apparently the old copies of Pretty Nostalgic are becoming quite collectible now too, but I prefer to pass them on for others to enjoy – especially now I really have finished reading them.