Friday, October 29. 2010
I'm been involved in an email correspondence with Jon Kennedy, who recently gave an address on "C. S. Lewis and Othodoxy" in Belfast. One of the points under discussion is the nature of the relationship between Lewis and Mrs Janie Moore. Kennedy writes -
On Lewis and Mrs. Moore, apparently the introduction in George Sayer's third edition is not in the American edition I've read. I may have bought mine as early as 1994 so maybe it was too early to have his later correction. The one I have gives the definite impression he did NOT think it was a sexual relationship and I believe I've quoted him to that effect so I have more "rehabilitating" to do, though I have also quoted Barfield as saying the chances were 50-50 that is WAS sexual.
My view is that the relationship between C.S. Lewis and Mrs Janie Moore was firstly sexual. In my opinion the question was already settled by the Lewis Centenary Year of 1998. I have referred Jon to the Introduction to the 3rd Edition (1997) of George Sayer's biography Jack (the 1st Edition was 1988) (a). Sayer, a good friend of the Lewises, writes in the critical paragraph -
I have had to alter my opinion of Lewis's relationship with Mrs. Moore. In chapter eight of this book I wrote that I was uncertain about whether they were lovers. Now after conversations with Mrs. Moore's daughter, and a consideration of the way in which their bedrooms were arranged at The Kilns, I am quite certain that they were. They did not share a room, but Lewis had a room which, until an outside staircase was built some years later, could be entered only by going through Mrs. Moore's bedroom. Even close friends such as Owen Barfield did not know much of their relationship. Lewis had to be secretive because if the university authorities had found out about Mrs. Moore he would have been sent down and his academic career at Oxford would have been over. He also felt forced to be dishonest with his father because if Albert had known the truth, he might have reduced his son's personal allowance, which, of course, helped to support Mrs. Moore and Maureen. Lewis felt guilty about this for years.
In the same Introduction, Sayer writes of what Maureen, Mrs. Moore's daughter, said of the relationship; "My father refused to divorce her, that was the trouble." That is, Mrs. Moore's estranged husband refused to divorce Mrs Moore. Sayer goes on; This could only mean that if he had divorced her, she and Lewis would have married.
In the entry on Janie King Askins Moore (1872-1951) in The C.S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia (1998), John Bremer wrote -
However long their sexual relationship lasted, it must have ended when Jack was converted to Christianity in 1931 because, according to Jack himself, outside of marriage celibacy was demanded.
In the 1920s here was a man living with a woman not his wife, in a variety of addresses around Oxford until they settled in The Kilns, risking his entire academic career for her, lying to his father about their relationship. I guess that in this period the law would have referred to Mrs Janie Moore as C.S. Lewis's "common-law wife".
Jack Lewis refused to discuss his relationship with Mrs Moore with his closest friends, including his brother Warnie. Nor does Lewis mention Mrs Moore in his "spiritual autobiography" Surprised by Joy (1956), where he writes in great detail of many aspects of his life. The financial relationships behind the purchase of the The Kilns greatly favoured Mrs Moore and Maureen. Mrs Moore was the owner, with the Lewis brothers having the status of mere "tenants-for-life". After the death of her mother, the property passed to Maureen.
Yet there was another Irish Mrs Moore in the life of the Lewis brothers. This was the widow Mrs Alice Moore, who lived out her final years during the 1930s in a bungalow in the grounds of The Kilns - as we discovered during the period of operation of the C.S. Lewis Centenary Group.
(a) In the same Introduction, Sayer (a convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism) writes -
It cannot be emphasised too strongly that he (Lewis) was happy to be a middle-of-the-road member of the Church of England. He certainly did not feel separated from people who were members of other Churches or other divisions of his Church. His confessor was an Anglo-Catholic; he had at least two Greek Orthodox, perhaps a dozen Roman Catholic and, of course, Anglican friends. He believed that there was a common or "mere" Christianity which people of almost all sects and divisions could accept and practise. Differences in belief and ceremony he thought unimportant.
"C. S. Lewis and Orthodoxy": Part 4, Thursday, October 21. 2010
C S Lewis Centenary Group
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