Northern Ireland

CS Lewis letters donated to Queen's University Belfast

McClay Library QUB
Image caption The letters will be stored in the CS Lewis Room at the McClay Library at Queen's University

Letters written by Belfast-born writer CS Lewis to a friend have been donated to Queen's University.

The ten rare unpublished letters were sent between 1944 and 1960 to his friend, Captain Bernard Acworth.

CS Lewis is best known for his children's series The Chronicles of Narnia.

Captain Acworth's son Richard and granddaughter Phyllida handed over the letters in a ceremony.

Captain Acworth was the founder of the Evolution Protest Movement, an organisation opposed to the teaching of evolution as scientific fact.

In the letters, Lewis outlined his own views on religion and the origins of life.

Captain Acworth's son, Reverend Dr Richard Acworth said his father and Lewis first became close after he wrote to the author about the issue.

Image caption Richard Acworth with his daughter Phyllida (left) and Deirdre Wildy of Queen's University Belfast

"My father had a particular view: he was strongly opposed to the teaching of evolution of being certainly true and the full explanation of things and he got in touch with CS Lewis about this," he said.

"Originally Lewis was more or less agnostic on that subject but it seems in the course of the correspondence he gradually became much more of my father's way of thinking."

He said the letters contained 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 CS Lewis collection at Queen's."

Deirdre Wildy, head of special collections and archives at Queen's, said: "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 and Archives at Queen's."

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