The Inkling Impulse

Owen Barfield’s Early Inkling Moments

c.1915 while in class at Highgate School, London; with friend Cecil Harwood – about language.
c.1917 while in the Royal Engineers Signal Service of the British Army; with brother Harry – about polarity.
1920 while at Wadham College, Oxford, writing the article ‘Form in Poetry’ published in the New Statesman (August 1920); with friend C.S. Lewis – about evolution of consciousness.
1921 while dancing at Somerville College (then ladies only), Oxford; with Maud (on 13th November) – the Inkling impulse manifested.

Highgate School,
London

Royal Corps of Signals (previously Royal Engineers Signal Service)

Wadham College, Oxford

Somerville College, Oxford

Maud Barfield (née Douie)

Maud was a musician, as well as a theatre and dance choreographer.

During World War One, Maud had been the most senior female officer in the Armed Forces of the British Empire, Commander in the Royal Navy (the highest rank permitted by her gender and social class).

Maud was the instigator of ‘The Roseland Concert Party’ which contributed to the revival of West Country folk music, and it was during this period she met Owen.

Maud and Owen married on 11th April 1923 in St Cyprian’s Church, Clarence Gate, London; and honeymooned in Chartres. As Maud was independently wealthy she was able to provide for Owen – giving him the means to think and write – until the Great Depression of 1929, thereafter Owen took up the practice of law.

Maud was also friend and mentor to C.S. Lewis who attended church with her during 1923, at St. Mary-the-Virgin, Primrose Hill, London. The church that Lucy was later baptised in with Lewis as her Godfather.

Maud lived from 1885 to 1980. She had a timeless quality.

Some Early Inkling Books

1925 The Silver Trumpet by Owen Barfield, not dedicated.
1928 Poetic Diction by Owen Barfield, dedicated to C.S. Lewis.
1936 Allegory of Love by C.S. Lewis, dedicated to Owen Barfield.
1937 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, not dedicated. (In 1936 Tolkien read The Silver Trumpet and accepted it as proof of concept.)
1950 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, written for and dedicated to Lucy Barfield.
1954 The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, dedicated to the Inklings and all admirers of Bilbo. (In 1928 Tolkien read Poetic Diction which he stated “modified his whole outlook”.)
1957 Saving the Appearances by Owen Barfield, dedicated to brother Harry with C.S. Lewis et al. in acknowledgements.
Copyright © 1997 — Owen Barfield Literary Estate.       Return to Top.