Introducing The Inklings


C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien participated in a group of writers

who met on a regular basis — so should writers today.


 “Creativity thrives on community.” Dr. Diana Pavlac Glyer

Nan Salina and Nan Rinella, Oxbridge 2011

The Nans — Salinas & Rinella, Oxbridge 2011

Tolkien calls the name [Inklings] “a pleasantly ingenious pun,” referring to those who “dabble in ink.” C.S. Lewis

The Inklings was a bi-weekly gathering of gifted writers in Lewis’s rooms or The Eagle & Child pub in Oxford, England. They met to discuss their literary works and support and encourage one another.

We owed each other a great debt to the other. – JRRT

What I owe to them all is incalculable. – CSL

It is not one distinct belief or idea that pulled the Inklings together and distinguished them from all other groups. It was rather their peculiar concern for Christianity and myth and Romanticism and language and writing (both scholarly and popular) and education, and, finally, history that attracted them to one another. – Pat Hargis, Mythopoeic Society, 1985

By far the best book on the Inklings is Dr. Glyer’s The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. It is a fascinating study on the influence and encouragement Lewis and Tolkien shared within their writers group of resonators. Many of the quotes I share are from this book.

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien



1. Inklings — Complimented each other for work well done

  • Lewis wrote that the Lord of the Rings was “like lightning out of a clear sky.” 

Writers today — Who doesn’t crave praise?

  • Whenever you write a book, you need someone to say yes to it.”  – Gertrude Stein
  • For praise that counts you need to go to fellow writers, instructors, editors.

2. Inklings — Gave each other critique and feedback

  • Critique was a significant part of Inklings meetings.” – Glyer
  • However, their meetings weren’t all about praise, encouragement, and mutual admiration, writes Glyer. They were quick to praise but bold to challenge and criticize, and were often brutally frank.

Writers today —Need another pair of eyes to catch errors and present another perspective

  • Feedback is essential—on content, spelling, grammar, punctuation, facts
  • Novice writers should attend classes and workshops
  • More established writers should join a critique group
  • Enter contests that provide critique
  • Don’t take it personally, it’s about the writing, not you

3. Inklings — Championed one another

  • They wrote about one another, recommended each other for projects and positions

Writers today — Need community and a network to champion us

  • My mentor introduced me to local editors
  • A friend recommended me for an anthology

4. Inklings — Were interested in each other and their work

  • Glyer writes about the creative interaction and mutual influence they shared
  • The sharing of ideas generated others

Writers today — Need people who care, empathize, motivate, and keep us accountable, and challenge us

  • Cultivate relationships
  • Meet regularly
  • Give as much as you receive

5. Inklings — Supported one another

  • In many ways, the Inklings, cultivated the habit of seeking and supporting what is good.”  – Glyer
  • Lewis gave Charles Williams use of his college rooms as a refuge

Writers today — Need practical support is so many ways

  • Friends loan out their mountain cabin when a writer needs to get away and work
  • My husband took sole care of the home front for three months while I was away on an internship

6. Inklings — Encouraged one another

  • After Lewis died and the Inklings disbanded. Tolkien isolated himself and hardly wrote without other’s encouragement

Writers today — Encouragement is the antidote for discouragement

  • Nourish and sustain the inventor as well as the invention,” – Karen Burke LeFevre

Some things never change – find a writing community.

Read Dr. Glyer’s book and share with her and us how it encouraged you