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The Inklings

The Eagle and Child pub

Oxford pub where "The Inklings" met

“Tollers” (J.R.R. Tolkien), as he was known by his fellow writers, was a member of the Oxford University literary group, “The Inklings” who met on Tuesday mornings in “The Eagle and Child” pub (or “The Bird and Baby” as they called it) to read aloud and discuss their unfinished works. How I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when Tollers read “The Lord of the Rings” or C.S. Lewis read “Out of the Silent Planet.” One can only imagine the rich conversation, laughter and fun as they joked and jibed and gave serious thought to weightier matters than the normal ubiquitous topics of English conversation like the weather and cricket. One wonders how much the final compositions were shaped and influenced by other members of this esteemed group, which included lesser known writers like a John Wain (a poet, novelist and critic) for example. How much also did a pint or two at “The Bird and Baby” oil the wheels of literary flights of imagination? As I read aloud my own first novel to record the Audio Book version, I reflected on the influences that had crafted it into what it is: all the detective novels I have ever read, the struggles between good and evil that are the leitmotif of many literary genres, the mysteries and puzzles that have to be solved in various classics, the universal quest for truth. I would be honored if a little of Tollers and Lewis had seeped into my consciousness over the years to shape future writings, if “The Inklings” who “praised the value of narrative in fiction, and encouraged the writing of fantasy” could live on in the 21st century generations of writers’ imaginations and resulting prose.

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Bledsoe is a published poet and photographer. DEATH BEFORE BREAKFAST is her debut novel.