Readers and fans of C.S. Lewis can now see a dedicated collection featuring rare copies of Lewis’ work — including an autographed edition of Mere Christianity.
900 books, journals, and audio-visual materials
Showcased within a new reading room on the second floor of TWU’s Norma Marion Alloway Library, the books within the Dr. Hans and Colleen Kouwenberg C.S. Lewis and Friends Collections were donated to Trinity Western University in the spring of 2019. The collection boasts over 900 items: audio-visual materials, journals, and books, including rare first editions, publishers’ file copies, and titles signed by C.S. Lewis, Walter Hooper (Lewis’ editor), and Owen Barfield.
Noteworthy within the reading room is the exhibit case that features The Screwtape Letters (2022 is the 80th anniversary of this publication), and in the case drawers, a student-designed display on a Lewis work that holds special meaning to them, and a copy of autographed work by Lewis.
C.S. Lewis and Christian education
Preaching at Oxford, in the Autumn of 1939, C.S. Lewis reminded us that our whole lives are important to God, and that what we “normally” think of as secular activities, such as studying and learning about philosophy, science, history, etc., are not “secular” at all. For the Christian, all natural activity, including study and learning, is to be pursued with joy, purpose, commitment, and worship. Lewis proclaimed, “there is no essential quarrel between the spiritual life and the human activities as such.” This wonderful collection of rare copies of books by Lewis and other Inklings authors is a magnificent gift and encouragement to see the opportunity to glorify God in every area of university education.
Supporting literary scholarship, enriching the Christian community
Envisioned as a teaching resource to support scholarship, in particular the Inklings Institute of Canada, and enrich the broader Christian community, The Dr. Hans and Colleen Kouwenberg C.S. Lewis and Friends Collections consists predominantly of the work of C.S. Lewis although it also includes that of other Inklings-related authors and critical commentaries. It is a “living collection” to which new resources will be added.
In addition, The Dr. Hans and Colleen Kouwenberg C.S. Lewis and Friends Collections complement the existing collection of C.S. Lewis and other Inklings titles held in TWU’s Norma Marion Alloway Library.
Dr. Monika B. Hilder, Professor of English and cofounder of the Inklings Institute of Canada, comments, ”There are few things more satisfying than discovering with others, in the community of the classroom, how writers like C.S. Lewis and other Inklings-related authors speak so very powerfully into the deep needs of our culture and, indeed, into our own personal journeys. These authors inspire us to live well, with courage and hope, as we travel to our True Country.”
She also points to Lewis' observation in The Abolition of Man, where he expresses, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.”
Fostering the next generation of scholars
Rev. Dr. Hans and Colleen Kouwenberg have been long-time supporters of Christian education. In 2020, the family established an endowment scholarship in honour of the late Rev. Dr. Hans Kouwenberg, who served as a congregational pastor in the Presbyterian Church for over forty years and had a passion for theological education.
Each year, the Kouwenberg Endowment Scholarship is awarded to a second- through fourth-year undergraduate student and/or to a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Humanities program who has shown academic interest in and carried out research on an Inklings or Inklings-related author. Since its inception, two gifted students have benefitted from this generous scholarship: Jonathan Daley (2021) and Bret Van Den Brink (2022).
Grand opening of the reading room celebrated
On October 1, 2022, the University officially opened the Dr. Hans and Colleen Kouwenberg C.S. Lewis and Friends Collections with a reception in honour of the Kouwenberg family.
University Librarian Darcy Gullacher comments on this significant occasion, “C.S. Lewis and the other Inklings writers are beloved authors for Christians worldwide, and we are honoured that the Kouwenberg family chose to bequest this significant collection to our care.”
“I am confident that this collection will be used by our students, faculty and visiting scholars, in particular those connected with the Inklings Institute of Canada, to advance teaching and research on the Inklings authors.”
Access to the Dr. Hans and Colleen Kouwenberg C.S. Lewis and Friends Collections is by appointment, and walk-ins are accommodated as staffing and scheduling allow. The collection is in-library use only. For more information on the collection, and to see images of the materials, marginalia, and inscriptions, please visit the Norma Marion Alloway Library’s website.
About C.S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963), scholar and author, is best known for his works of fiction, especially the Chronicles of Narnia, the Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength), The Screwtape Letters, and Till We Have Faces, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain, and his book on popular culture The Abolition of Man.
C.S. Lewis wrote more than 30 books that have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. To date, three of the Narnia books have been transformed into major motion pictures.
He was close friends with Oxford University colleague J.R.R. Tolkien, and both men were involved in the informal literary group known as the Inklings that enthusiastically read and discussed each other’s fiction. Lewis became an atheist as a boy and experienced a conversion to theism in 1929 and to the Christian faith in 1931. His friends Tolkien and Hugo Dyson are credited with influencing Lewis’ conversion through long discussions and a late-night walk along Addison’s Walk on the grounds of Magdalen College.
About the Inklings Institute of Canada (IIC) at Trinity Western University
Cofounded and codirected by Dr. Monika Hilder and Dr. Stephen Dunning, faculty members in the Department of English and Creative Writing, the Inklings Institute of Canada is an interdisciplinary research effort that formalizes, strengthens and advances Trinity Western University’s contribution to international research on the works of the Oxford Inklings group—including C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, and J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as friends such as Dorothy L. Sayers, and their literary mentors, earlier writers such as George MacDonald and G.K. Chesterton. IIC advances Inklings scholarship through literary criticism and related collaborative research across the disciplines; investigates how these authors critiqued their own cultures and therefore help us to respond to our own historical/cultural context; promotes the publication of research and scholarship in peer-reviewed journals, books, and other suitable venues appropriate to the various disciplines; fosters undergraduate and graduate student involvement in such research and scholarship; seeks funding for Inklings research; contributes to the current return of religious language to public discourse—and does so within the campus, with associated members nationally and internationally, and with the general public.
For more information on the Inklings Institute of Canada, please visit their webpage.
See also — TWU's Dr. Monika Hilder launches new book on how fairy tales help us find courage and hope, and teach us to live well
About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier global Christian liberal arts university. We are dedicated to equipping students to discover meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. Drawing upon the riches of the Christian tradition, seeking to unite faith and reason through teaching and scholarship, Trinity Western University is a degree-granting research institution offering liberal arts and sciences as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four locations in Canada: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.