International Registry of Known Inklings Groups

Inklings Groups Around the World

Well, has nobody got anything to read us?

- C.S. Lewis, at the beginning of Inklings meetings

The Inklings of Oxford

It all started in Oxford England, where the influential British writers C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield and a few of their friends and colleagues would gather to share their writings and talk.

Diana Glyer poignantly describes the original meetings on cslewis.com: “When half a dozen members had assembled, Warren Lewis would produce a pot of very strong tea, the men would sit down and light their pipes, and C. S. Lewis would call out, ‘Well, has nobody got anything to read us?’ Someone always did. Out would come the rough draft of a story or a poem, and the others would settle down to listen, to encourage, to critique, to correct, to interrupt and argue and advise. They’d continue this way, reading aloud, energetically critiquing, until two or three in the morning. And meetings went on like this every week for nearly twenty years. Listening to drafts and offering energetic feedback occupied the better part of every Inklings meeting. Nothing could be more simple—a small group of tweedy British men, meeting week after week in Lewis’s rooms at Magdalen College, sitting on the shabby grey couch, drinking tea, reading and talking.”

Inklings Groups Today

The original Inklings of Oxford have long since disbanded, but dozens of similar groups have since sprung up to carry on their work and legacy.

Each modern Inklings group is so very different that we hesitate to jot down a single definition. Some Inklings simply write stories and share them – rather like the original Inklings. Others put more of an emphasis on discussing the lives, works and ideas of Tolkien, Lewis and their friends. Some Inklings are explicitly Christian. Others are not. Groups often involve one or more of the following activities in their meetings: literature, biographies, music, the outdoors, travel, discussion, meals, creative expression, and ministry. With this incredible diversity in mind, we have tried to keep our definitions below to the least common denominator. 

Creativity

An hour's conversation on literature between two ardent minds with a common devotion to a neglected poet is a miraculous road to intimacy.

- Charles Williams, War in Heaven

All Inklings groups seem to involve some form of creative expression, whether that is the direct creative activity of the group or the discussion of creative activity by others. Inklings groups commonly engage in activities similar to those of writing workshops, book clubs, or both.

Community

Friendship...is born at the moment when one man says to another 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .'

- C.S. Lewis, the Four Loves

Most Inklings groups are designed to convey an atmosphere of camaraderie around shared passions and interests. Groups are usually quite informal, with “facilitators”, “leaders” and “hosts” instead of official officers. They can meet anywhere, from a home to a local pub or coffeehouse.

Myth

History often resembles myth, because they are both ultimately of the same stuff.

- J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy Stories

All Inklings share a love of myths and good stories, contesting together that a myth’s status as non-historical doesn’t necessarily make it any less true. The view of myth and fantasy expressed through the concepts of “Recovery”, “Escape”, and “Consolation”, as outlined by J.R.R. Tolkien in On Fairy Stories is widely held by many Inklings across the world.

A few ideas about starting a group

• The simplest way to start an Inklings group is to invite a few people you know who share an interest in the Inklings, their writings, or the genres they wrote in. Then, invite those people to invite people interested in the same things.

• Ask to have your group included in your church bulletin.

• Use a Facebook event or Meetup group to get the word out.

• Submit your group to us and we will put it on our map.

• Aim for a flexible consistency as you found your group. You should be open to your group taking a form that is somewhat different than the one you originally envisioned. After all, adventures rarely go as planned.

Yes, please do.

Just submit a short description of your group and the name of the city and state in which you are located. We'll gladly add you to our map so that Inklings in your city can find you. If your group would also like information on our annual trips to Oxford, just let us know.