The Wade Center, Wheaton, IL

If a breakfast companion had not tipped me off this morning, I may have forgotten about The Wade Center on the Wheaton College campus, which I visited this morning. Named for the founder of the ServiceMaster Company, whose generosity established the center, it is the fulfillment of Dr. Clyde S. Kilby's vision. Kilby was a professor of English literature at Wheaton and a correspondent of C. S. Lewis.

The center's current holdings of twelve thousand volumes and more than sixty-five thousand pages of manuscripts and letters relating to the lives and writings of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkein, G. K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, Charles Williams, Dorothy Sayers, and Owen Barfield began with fifteen letters from C. S. Lewis to Kilby and a handful of Lewis books.

On exhibit today is the desk (above) on which Tolkein wrote, edited, and illustrated The Hobbit (as well as some work on The Lord of the Rings). Under the glass atop the desk is a letter, beautifully calligraphed by Tolkein himself, explaining the provenance of the desk and the use it saw over the years. He wrote the letter on the occasion of his donating the desk to a British charity.

C. S. Lewis's desk (above), which he used at Magdalen College and also at his home, "The Kilns," is also on display, as well as--be still my heart--the actual wardrobe made famous in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It took all my will power not to climb inside in the hope of entering Narnia.

The Wade Center also includes the Kilby Reading room, where I browsed the extensive collection of works by and about "The Seven," the authors to whom the center is devoted.

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1 comment:

  1. I spent four wonderful years working for the Wade Collection (as it was then called). I had the rare privilege of transcribing C.S. Lewis' personal letters. It was an amazing experience and my heart still feels connected to this place.