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Clive Staples Lewis (better known as C. S. Lewis) loved nothing more than sitting in the back room of his favorite pub, The Eagle and Child, surrounded by his closest literary friends, including J. R. R. Tolkien. In 1926, Lewis joined the English faculty at Oxford University, which is where he met Tolkien. They became fast friends, referring to each other affectionately as “Lewis” and “Tollers.”
The group they were a part of called themselves the Inklings and began meeting regularly in Oxford in the fall of 1933. The Inklings continued regularly for 16 years, sometimes at the pub, and sometimes in Lewis’s quarters at Magdalen College. The informal meetings consisted of friendly conversation, the exchange of ideas, and, most often, readings of new and original material. “Our habit was to read aloud compositions of various kinds (and lengths!)” Tolkien once quipped.
Lewis and Tolkien remained “literary soul mates” until Lewis’s death in 1963. They inspired each other, and their relationship remains one of the most significant in twentieth-century literature. Tolkien once wrote of Lewis: “Only from him did I ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.” Another commentator noted, “Without J. R. R. Tolkien, we might never have heard of C. S. Lewis, but without Lewis, we might never have heard of Tolkien.”