Closure of the Charles Williams Society
A Statement by the Chairman of the Council
At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Charles Williams Society held in Oxford in June last year, members of the society passed a resolution giving formal assent to the winding up of the society. It was, inevitably, a sad occasion. The society had been in existence for fifty years and had achieved much in the way of publications, conferences, a Newsletter and Quarterly and a substantial collection of reference material. But, as its members had increasingly become aware, it could not continue in its present form. Consequently, on 25th of February 2017, I, as Chairman of the Council, and the President of the Oxford University C S Lewis Society signed the form which legally transferred the assets of the Charles Williams Society to the Oxford University C S Lewis Society: a sum of £18000.00 and the contents of the reference library.
It was deemed appropriate that the Oxford University C S Lewis Society should receive these assets – for a variety of reasons. First because the society was the origin of the Journal of Inklings Studies which will be receiving the bulk of the monetary transfer, a publication whose editor has assured me will actively promote the cause of Charles Williams.
Secondly because both C S Lewis and Oxford played such a major part in the life of Charles Williams. C S Lewis’s friendship with Williams and his admiration for his work were boundless. No- one made greater effort to bring that work to the notice of the public than Lewis and no-one wrote more profoundly and movingly about the loss of a friend when that friend died in 1945. ‘No event has so corroborated my faith in the next world as Williams did simply by dying. When the idea of death and the idea of Williams thus met, in my mind, it was the idea of death that was changed.’
The Society, we may say, continues its life in this website so ably administered by Matt Kirkland. Everyone owes a huge debt to him for his achievement. And the reference library continues to be housed in the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford. It is available, not only to scholars, but to anyone who is interested in the life and work of Williams. The new owners of the Centre, Middlebury College, under leadership of Professor Paul Monod, are extremely welcoming and helpful. We owe them, too, a large debt of gratitude.
I have been privileged to work alongside splendid friends on the council of the Charles Williams Society: scholarly, witty, perceptive and supportive. To them my heartfelt thanks. And to the many hundreds of people I have met in the course of fifty years of my association with the society I give my thanks for the enrichment of my life in so many ways.