C.S. Lewis letters donated to Queen's University Belfast

C.S. Lewis letters donated to QUB

A rare collection of letters from renowned writer C.S. Lewis has been presented to Special Collections and Archives at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Eleven of the author’s letters to Captain Bernard Acworth, founder of The Evolution Protest Movement, were donated by the Captain’s son, the Rev. Dr. Richard Acworth.

Captain Acworth was founder of the Evolution Protest Movement in the 1930s and was dedicated to opposing the teaching of the theory of evolution as scientific fact. In his letters to Lewis, he corresponded with the author on his views on the incompatibility of evolution and Christianity.

In the series of previously unpublished letters, written between 1944 and 1960, Lewis explains, at some length, his views on the question of origins.

Donating the letters, Rev. Dr. Richard Acworth, said: “My father became friendly with Lewis during the 1940s. In his published works, C.S. Lewis infrequently addressed the subject of creation and evolution, and when he did, he usually endorsed some version of theistic evolution. These letters are fascinating, because they reveal that during the last years of his life, Lewis was growing increasingly uncomfortable with the claims being made for organic evolution.

“They also contain insights into various aspects of Lewis’ private life, including when he married his wife at her bedside in hospital, as she was dying of cancer, and she seemed to make a miraculous recovery. He also talks of visiting Donegal, describing the scenery in North Donegal as ‘lovely’ and South Donegal as having a ‘sinister character’.

“I am delighted that my daughter Phyllida, a Queen’s English graduate, is here with me today. I know my father would have been happy to have his letters preserved as part of the C.S. Lewis collection at Queen’s.”

Deirdre Wildy, Head of Special Collections & Archives at Queen’s said: “The works of C.S. Lewis are enjoyed the world over. We are delighted to be in receipt of the Acworth Collection, and will be pleased to facilitate access to the letters as they are likely to be of great interest to researchers in several subject areas. This generous donation will be a valuable addition to our manuscript holdings in Special Collections & Archives at Queen's.”

The handover event took place on Monday 20th August in the C.S. Lewis Reading Room, in the University’s McClay Library, which is entered through a replica of the wardrobe door used in the feature film, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Queen’s was chosen to host the Irish film premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media's The Chronicles of Narnia; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 2005.