The Silver Trumpet

by Owen Barfield

  • 1st edition by Faber & Gwyer in 1925 (the year T. S. Eliot joined the firm) – with 29 illustrations by Gilbert James
  • 2nd edition by Eerdmans in 1968 – with 105 illustrations by Betty Beeby
  • 3rd edition by Bookmakers Guild in 1986 – with 20 illustrations by Josephine Spence

The Owen Barfield Literary Estate hopes to bring a new edition of The Silver Trumpet out soon.

Barfield’s fairy tale The Silver Trumpet shows how human truths can be communicated in children’s literature, providing proof of concept for Barfield’s fellow Inkling writers C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.

Lewis’ diary entry for 20 October 1923 records how he had been overjoyed to read the fairy tale in manuscript form saying “nothing in its kind can be imagined better.”

Tolkien also found that The Silver Trumpet had “scored a direct hit” with his children, as reported by Lewis in a letter to Barfield dated 28 June 1936.

The Silver Trumpet is the first published fantasy book by an Inkling. The illustrations for the book’s first two editions were commissioned by the publishers, and the drawings for the third edition are by Barfield’s friend Josephine Spence.

In an interview in 1984, Barfield explained that he wrote the story “to bring out the importance of the romantic element in relations between a man and a woman. . . . And more widely than that, the importance of the feeling element in life.”