Comments and Reviews: Expanded


Hugo Award Finalist: Best Related Book
The Mythopoeic Society Scholarship Award
Imperishable Flame Award for Tolkien Studies
Recommended Book
Yankee Book Peddler Core 1,000 Books for 2007


Diana Glyer’s is the best account we have, not only of the friendship between Lewis and Tolkien, and the other Inklings, but also of the practical help and support they offered to each other: as critics, editors, collaborators, motivators. For both Lewis and Tolkien, the spark came from flint and steel, and Diana Glyer shows the many ways they struck it. Her book is an indispensable account not just of friendship, but also of the paths of creativity.
Tom Shippey, Author of The Road to Middle-earth and J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of the Century

With unerring aim, Diana Glyer puts an arrow right through the heart of the mistaken notion that the Inklings did not influence one another. Having slain that canard, she then brings to life, with great care and dexterity, the truth that Lewis, Tolkien, and the others in their circle, enriched, informed, and critiqued one another’s work in numerous ways and at many different levels. Detailed and thorough, The Company They Keep never loses sight of the larger picture, and it concludes with telling observations about the importance–indeed, the necessity–of friendship and community to the realisation of individual talent. This is an indispensable contribution to the study of what may fairly be called the 20th century’s most influential group of writers.
Michael Ward, author of Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis and co-editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis

What this book contributes to our world is a careful study of how the influence of our friends can make us better. In addition to being a great story of a particularly influential writing group, it might serve as a manual for how to act as a friendly critic within a writing membership.
REVIEW: Green Man Review

Tolkien and Lewis formed the spine of the Inklings, regularly convening to read and discuss one another’s work in Lewis’s rooms at Magdalen College. There were nineteen members in all, and Glyer excels at depicting their world.
REVIEW: The Times Literary Supplement 14 September 2007

Reading the remarkable The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community proves that Diana Pavlac Glyer has vaulted into the company of the very best thinkers and writers on the Inklings.
REVIEW: Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature Vol. 26 No. 1/2 Fall/Winter 2007.

Glyer does not employ the postmodernist jargon that renders unintelligible much of today’s literary scholarship; anyone with a strong interest in the Inklings and their writing, or in literary and artistic circles, will find The Company They Keep approachable and highly readable. An especially valuable aspect of the book is its inclusion of the lesser-known Inklings, to whom David Bratman’s appendix on “The Inklings: Their Lives and Works”, is a valuable guide. The Company They Keep is an example of literary scholarship at its best: a book that has increased my understanding of some of the most important writers of the twentieth century and my enjoyment of their work.

— Fred Lerner, Lofgeornost “Winter’s Reading,” February 2009

This is an impressive piece of work, and it has the great merit of being both authentically scholarly and entertaining at the same time. If the word “community” might put you off for a moment, suspecting a sociological study, just start reading. You will find yourself drawn straightaway into an account of things that (I’ll wager) would have the Inklings themselves turning the pages.
Thomas T. Howard, Ph.D., Author of The Novels of Charles Williams, Evangelical Is Not Enough: Worship of God in Liturgy and Sacrament, Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey to Rome, and Splendor in the Ordinary: Your Home as a Holy Place.

As an account of Tolkien, Lewis, Williams, and the other Inklings, The Company They Keep supercedes Humphrey Carpenter’s volume, being more comprehensive, deeper, better-argued, and with a more coherent purpose.

Glyer concludes that writers don’t create in a vacuum; every artist’s work is inevitably embedded in the work of others. Community doesn’t stifle creativity or individual expression. Rather, it fertilizes and nurtures it. For anyone interested in how a favorite book came to be, and especially for artists exploring their own craft, The Company They Keep is a must read. Her conclusions are well supported and her arguments thorough. Best of all, her book is fascinating and a joy to read. Any fan of Tolkien, Lewis, and the others absolutely must have a copy of Carpenter’s The Inklings. The shelf is equally bare without a copy of The Company The Keep.

REVIEW: John Adcox, author of The Widening Gyre, Blackthorne Faire, and Raven Wakes the World

This is a wonderful book. I devoured it. I love the fact that these great writers authored their material in community. It takes their skills out of the mythical into the possible.
Daniel Maat, Grand Rapids, MI

Glyer’s well-chosen quotes bring these men alive. A young scholar new to the Inklings’ work could enjoy this book and follow the arguments with as much enthusiasm as those of us long acquainted with these writers.

The best book on Lewis since David Downing’s Most Reluctant Convert is Diana Pavlac Glyer’s engaging and comprehensive study of that formidable writers group known as the Inklings. The impressive documentation featured throughout is complemented by the stirring annotated bibliography provided by David Bratman, components that only increase the value of this amazing work that should be in every library, and on the shelf of every Lewis enthusiast. This volume so surpasses in wisdom and cogency of the late Humphrey Carpenter’s The Inklings, I would urge you to sell your copy back to the used bookstore from whence it may have come, take the proceeds, and buy this one. It is a model of responsive, responsible, lucidly written scholarly work worthy of Lewis’s own high standards. It both educates and entertains.

While there are shelves of books focusing on Lewis as an apologist, spiritual mentor, or children’s writer, only a handful of books have appeared where scholars have shouldered the task of writing about Lewis in larger cultural, intellectual, literary, and scholarly contexts. … Diana Pavlac Glyer’s The Company They Keep is a welcomed addition to this group and offers a fascinating exploration of Lewis, Tolkien and the other members of the Inklings.
—REVIEW: Christian Scholar’s Review (CCCU). Vol. 37 No. 2 Winter 2008.

The Company They Keep is a must for university libraries with strong Inklings collections or that serve institutions with creative writing programs.
–REVIEW: Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review. Vol. 4 2007.

With David Bratman’s encyclopedic appendix of entries on each of the Inklings, and the exhaustive list of Works Cited, this work is essential reading for Inklings Studies. But it is of equal interest to Composition Studies, especially perhaps those of us who still assert that student writers have much to learn from working with their peers. …The Compositionist who has The Company They Keep close at hand has ready examples of how creative journeys in the arts begin and are sustained.
— REVIEW: Writing on the Edge: A Journal About Writing and Teaching Writing (University of California at Davis). Vol. 18 No. 1 Fall 2007.

I hardly know where to begin when listing the possibilities for Glyer’s book for the researcher. Starting with the obvious, anyone researching Lewis, Tolkien, or any of the other Inklings (either the men or their works), will find plenty of useful information both in the text and in the copious and often entertaining footnotes. Glyer’s practical illustration of LeFevre’s analysis of critique groups (almost a case study) is also valuable when researching such groups and the effect they have on writers in general. The book is relatively free from jargon and accessible to the educated layman. Anyone with a love of literature or writing will gain immense pleasure and knowledge from this thoroughly researched, very well-written book.
—REVIEW: Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. Vol. 18 No. 1 2007.

Different readers will smile upon, or pick at, different features. What is indisputable is that Glyer has amplified and extended the conversation, provocatively and usefully, so that we must see the Inklings differently than we have thus far. The Company They Keep is indispensible.
—REVIEW: Seven: An Anglo-American Literary Review (Wheaton College). Vol. 25 2008. Reviewed by James Como.

Glyer’s book is a major contribution to Inkling studies.
—REVIEW: SFRA Review: A Publication of the Science Fiction Research Association. No. 283 Winter 2008

This study of Lewis and company is a solid addition to the growing list of books and articles about the Inklings, a British literary group founded in the 1930s. Summing Up: Recommended.
—REVIEW: CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. Vol. 45. No. 4 December 2007.

You and your friends would benefit from meeting together, sharing ideas, reading works in progress, giving and receiving critiques. That’s the major lesson I learned from reading Diana Glyer’s excellent book.
—REVIEW: CSL: The Bulletin of the New York C. S. Lewis Society. Vol. 39 No. 4 Whole Number 426 July/August 2008.

This is a very good book, quite satisfying and clarifying.
—REVIEW: Lembas: The Quarterly Journal of Unquendor (the Dutch Tolkien Society). No. 131 October 2007.

In The Company They Keep, Diana Pavlac Glyer convincingly demonstrates the importance of mutual influence among the Inklings. This book will rank as an important contribution to Inklings studies.
—REVIEW: Beyond Bree. May 2007

Now then, why is Glyer’s new book of importance? Quite frankly, it is the first book to properly evaluate the Inklings as a functioning literary group.
—REVIEW: Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature, Vol. 12 January 2008. Reviewed by Joe Christopher.

Glyer’s book adds up to a wholly convincing and fascinating treatise on the necessity of literary community in the lives of writers.
—REVIEW: Catholic Library World (Catholic Library Association). Vol. 79 No. 1.

This scholarly–yet eminently approachable–text is highly recommended for academic libraries, and will be of great interest to students of English Literature, Communications, and/or Creative Writing.
—REVIEW: The Christian Librarian. Vol. 51 No. 2 2008.

Copious notes, interesting to read in themselves, underscore Glyer’s extensive research and supplement her points. Admirably, although her text is very detail-heavy, it is not heavy going at all; it is written in a graceful, straightforward style. One can take away many gifts from a reading of this book.
—REVIEW: Children’s Literature Association Quarterly. Vol. 33 No. 4 Winter 2008.

In The Company They Keep, Diana Glyer has crafted the most intimate, clear, authoritative study yet of the Inklings, the famous Oxford writers’ clique that included, among others, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. By bringing the group’s dynamics openly before us, she enables us to encounter the customs, personalities, and writings of its authors. It is really quite a stunning achievement.
—REVIEW: The Lion and the Unicorn. Vol. 32 No. 3 September 2008. Reviewed by John H. Timmerman.

The Company They Keep is a wonder of a book. In a relatively short treatment, it manages to be scholarly enough to satisfy the most meticulous Inklings scholar yet lively enough to engage readers who have only a passing interest in Lewis or Tolkien. It successfully addresses the needs of both scholars in composition studies and teachers of writing as they seek to understand how writers groups work, and how to best employ these techniques to improve writing. And the book will appeal to the wider group of people who hope to become more creative by using exemplary role models. This book deserves to be read and incorporated into our classroom techniques. It deserves to be assigned as a text to our students as they become better writers. And it deserves to be enjoyed as the insightful read that it is.
REVIEW: Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture (Duke University Press). Volume 9, Issue 1, Winter 2009.

Despite many indications to the contrary, the myth persists that between J. R. R. Tolkien and the other major Inklings there was little significant influence. Now at last we have a book which meticulously assembles the evidence to disprove that idea and show the varied ways the whole group of Inklings influenced one another. The appendix by David Bratman is a treasure trove of biographical and bibliographical information on all nineteen of the Inklings.
Charles A. Huttar, Professor Emeritus, Hope College, Co-editor of Word and Story in C. S. Lewis, The Rhetoric of Vision: Essays on Charles Williams, and Scandalous Truths: Essays by And About Susan Howatch, Editor of Imagination and the Spirit: Essays In Literature and the Christian Faith Presented to Clyde S. Kilby

The Company They Keep is a very valuable book indeed, one which should be read and thoughtfully considered by anyone deeply interested in C.S. Lewis J.R.R. Tolkien, the Inklings, their literary output and the craft of writing in general. My hat is off to Diana Pavlac Glyer for giving to Inklings studies a work of such excellent scholarship and essential insight.
REVIEW: Will Vaus, President of Will Vaus Ministries, Author of Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C.S. Lewis, The Professor of Narnia, and My Father Was a Gangster.

This is a very good account of the Inklings. That is the name that Lewis gave to the group of writers, poets, and critics who met at fairly regular intervals in Lewis’s rooms at Magdelen College, Oxford, and sometimes at a local pub. The group included Lewis, Tolkien, and Lewis’s brother Warren Lewis, as well as some fifteen others. … If you have more than a casual interest in these matters, you will enjoy reading this book.
—REVIEW: Jerry Pournelle, Author of Janissaries; Columnist for Byte;  Co-Author (with Larry Niven) of Lucifer’s Hammer, The Mote in God’s Eye, Inferno, and Escape From Hell.

I enjoyed this book, not only because it advances our understanding of the Inklings and how they work, or because of the excellent things squirreled away in the notes and appendices, but largely because it is so illuminating about the art of writing itself.
Malcolm Guite, Chaplain, Girton College, Cambridge.

By incorporating unpublished letters, poems, quotes and accounts from the Inklings, Glyer introduces a critical analysis that changes an entire field’s perspective.
Anthony S. Burdge, Founder and President, the Northeast Tolkien Society.

Glyer’s prose is not only a delight to read, but it is also full of keen analysis and valuable insight into the nature of the Inklings’ complicated interrelationship. The Company They Keep is truly an important contribution to Inklings studies as well as an excellent example of how literary critics can approach the thorny issue of influence in a careful, balanced way.
—REVIEW: Mythprint: The Monthly Bulletin of the Mythopoeic Society. Vol. 44 No. 5 May 2007.

This book is a great read for fans of Tolkien and Lewis.
The High Tide (school newspaper), Redondo Union High School, Redondo Beach, California.

In the nascent field of genuine “Inklings Studies,” as opposed to research devoted to particular authors and the elaboration of “Inklings fandom,” The Company They Keep is a bold and successful pioneer.
—REVIEW: File 770  No. 149 March 2007.

Glyer is a professor of English at Azusa Pacific University and the book was published by Kent State University Press.  Despite those facts, The Company They Keep does not have the feel of a dry academic tome. Glyer’s style is engaging and she is adept at bringing the figures she discusses, particularly the Lewis brothers, to life in her work. The Company They Keep, therefore, is an entertaining, as well as informative book, and is likely to make the reader want to explore the Inklings further, an endeavor made easier by David Bratman’s extensive appendix providing biographical information on the group’s various members.
REVIEW: Steven H. Silver Reviews

The Company They Keep belongs on the bookshelves of all serious readers of Tolkien, Lewis, Williams, Barfield, and the rest of the Inklings — and indeed on the bookshelves of writers and students of writing and writers’ communities, too.
REVIEW: Lingwë: Musings of a Fish

If you thought you knew everything there was to know about the Inklings, this book will change your mind. There’s still more to be discovered about how they interacted. Glyer’s style is brisk, clear and engaging. But beyond that, her insights into the Inklings are exceptional.

The Company They Keep is a marvelous book – fascinating, enjoyable, vastly informative and full of leads for future study. Glyer should be congratulated on the heroically comprehensive scholarship, which makes it an indispensable resource. For me, however, reading it was simply pure enjoyment! – diving into another and delightful world. It is simply a tremendous reading experience. I hope the book is soon issued in paperback, so it can reach a wider readership – but I am pleased to have the more durable hardback since it’s likely to get heavily used over the years.
Bruce G. Charlton, M.D., Reader in Evolutionary Psychiatry, Department of Psychology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and Editor-in-Chief, Medical Hypotheses

Glyer sees the hidden currents that serve as influences among writers, which makes this book as much a study about the act of writing in community as it is about the Inklings themselves. In other words, one need not be interested in the Inklings to be drawn in. It’s a fascinating case-study in group dynamics and the creative process, and because the two main subjects of the book, Tolkien and Lewis, also happen to be two of the past century’s most important writers, the book serves as a lens into the mechanism of genius as well.
—REVIEW: APU Research Reporter May 2007.

The Company They Keep is a must for university libraries with strong Inklings collections or that serve institutions with creative writing programs.
–REVIEW: Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review Vol. 4 2007.

A convincing argument may be made that the early twenty-first century is a new golden age of Tolkien criticism. Along with recent and noteworthy works by long-established masters of Tolkien scholarship, outstanding book-length studies by “new” writers like John Garth, John D. Rateliff, and Diana Pavlac Glyer have swelled the Middle-earth scholar’s bookshelves with more absolutely essential tomes.
Mike Foster in Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review Vol. 6 2009.

The beauty of this book lies in the clarity and eloquence of the author’s prose. It is one of those extraordinary academic works that is actually easy and enjoyable to read. Whether you are a new fan of these authors or you have been studying them for years, you will find plenty to enjoy within the pages of this book.

Here’s the thing. Glyer obviously did her homework. I see many familiar quotes, always used in the right place, never distorted or misemployed. She’s also found some good stuff that I’ve never read, or haven’t read for years and years. She has an impressive bibliography (anyone wishing to study the Inklings ought to buy the book for the bibliography in and of itself) and superlative notes. But here’s the real appeal: the engaging, lucid, crystal clear writing style that graces her steel-strong research.
Sherwood Smith, author of Inda, The Fox, King’s Shield, Treason’s Shore, A Stranger to Command, Crown Duel, Once a Princess, Twice a Prince, Senrid, The Trouble with Kings, A Posse of Princesses, Wren to the Rescue, Wren’s Quest, and Wren’s War

The Company They Keep is an astonishingly thorough work, lucidly and boldly illuminating the collaborative writing processes of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and their colleagues during the most fruitful period of their careers. Diana Glyer’s impressive achievement immediately supersedes in scope and authority all previous treatments of the Inklings.
Bruce L. Edwards, Professor of English, Bowling Green State University, Associate Dean of Continuing & Extended Education, Author of Not-a-Tame Lion, Further Up and Further In, and A Rhetoric of Reading, editor of C. S. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy

I found myself captured by her engaging writing style, the breadth of her research, and the cogency of her argument. Her work will influence the texture of Inklings scholarship for years to come. It’s good, very good indeed.
Verlyn Flieger, Professor of English, University of Maryland at College Park, Co-editor (with Douglas Anderson and Michael Drout) of Tolkien Studies, Author of Splintered Light, A Question of Time, and Interrupted Music

This engaging study deserves a place in the library of all those who value the works of the Inklings. It is also a worthwhile volume for any who are interested in examining the craft of writing and the impact of creating within community.
Marjorie Lamp Mead, Wheaton College, Associate Director of the Marion E. Wade Center and managing editor of Seven, Co-author of A Reader’s Guide Through the Wardrobe, Co-editor of C. S. Lewis: Letters to Children and Brothers and Friends

A great deal of what is written about C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and the rest of the Inklings circle is amateurish in the bad sense: informed by much enthusiasm and little knowledge or judgment. Therefore, I was delighted to receive, and to have the opportunity to review, a volume worthy of its subjects: Diana Pavlac Glyer’s The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community.

If there is one book that has really has impressed me, it is Diana Glyer’s The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. I read the review by Josh B. Long and needed to read the book for myself. And read I did. While the content of the book is very great, important facts are discussed and compared, and there is tons of interesting information, it remains easy and is very enjoyable to read. This book is a must have for Tolkien and Inkling lovers!
Pieter Collier, Founder and Webmaster of

The Company They Keep is an absolute treasure trove of sparkling insight and in-depth research. A jewel to any library!

The Company They Keep certainly contributes to the ongoing conversation about Lewis, Tolkien, and the others, but rather than being an addition to that conversation, this book will undoubtedly redirect its course. From now on, the rest of us will talk about these pivotal writers and scholars differently. Glyer has taken these writers—and by extension all artists and scholars—out of their solitary towers and placed them back in the community where they belong.
David Esselstrom, chair, Department of English, Azusa Pacific University

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