Women Among the Inklings

Gender, C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams

by Candice Fredrick, Sam McBride


Examines the attitude of three of the Inklings—Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams—toward women, in their lives and writings.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Women Among the Inklings

August 2001


Pages 224
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Women's Studies/General

The Oxford group of writers known as the Inklings met and thrived during the 1930s and 1940s. Three of the members, C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams, became known as authors and cultural figures, recognized for interweaving Christian themes into fantasy fiction. Other members of the group doubtlessly influenced these works through their comments and discussion, and the published ideas of Williams, Lewis, and Tolkien were probably first discussed within this circle. Every member of the Inklings was male, the group consciously excluded women, and it was formed to promote male companionship. This book examines the attitude of the Inklings toward women and thus, sheds new light on the lives and works of Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams.

The book examines the male culture of the Inklings and the relation of the literary group to the larger Oxford community. It also looks at women in the lives of Williams, Tolkien, and Lewis. While Williams and Tolkien apparently thought of women as mythic icons, Lewis began to question some of the group's assumptions after his marriage. When considering the representation of women in fiction by the Inklings, the volume gives special attention to issues of gender and theology.

Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroductionThe Inklings as Male CultureWomen as Mythic Icons: Williams and TolkienWomen as Presence and Absence: The Lewis BrothersAgainst Insubordination: Women in Inklings FictionMere Feminism: Gender, Reading, and the InklingsSelected BibliographyIndex



...the only full treatment of the topic. Highly recommended for libraries supporting studies of the Inklings; also useful in extensive feminist studies collections and for public libraries looking for something lively on Tolkien.—Choice

...the book is well-researched and the Notes and Selected Bibliography are extensive and impressive.—Science Fiction Studies

This literary study is provacative in the best sense: it's deeply researched, well-written, thinks its arguments all the way through, and unashamedly tackles its difficult subject: the attitudes of the three principal Inklings towards women, in their lives and in both deliberate and casual references in their writings....This is an honest and insightful book that should cause all Inklings readers to think hard about the authors, and criticism has no higher value.—Mythprint

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