Artists and Illustrations Included in This Record
"Winter," Poem by R.E. Havard and Illustration by Rosamund M.B. Fletcher (included in main document of paper, immediately prior to "Works Cited")
Despite the incredible wealth of Inklings scholarship, little critical attention has been paid to the lesser-known members of the circle, including physician and writer Robert E. Havard (1901—1985). Dr. Havard has been noted as a “skilled and prolific writer” (Glyer 12) who was “well-read and keenly interested in the processes of literature and in theology” (Sayer 151). Yet, Inklings scholarship has long been limited to his appendix to Lewis’s The Problem of Pain and several memoirs on fellow Inklings. When asked regarding his own writing during a 1984 interview with Lyle W. Dorsett, Havard remarked that “I have never written anything very much…I’ve never been a writer in the ways the others were” (Oral History). Although Havard is recognized to have co-authored a wide variety of biomedical research articles, this estimation of his own creative and academic output has long been taken for granted.
In reviewing Dr. Havard’s published and unpublished writings, my ongoing research has revealed a far more striking portrait of this (previously) un-studied “medical Inkling.” While Dr. Havard’s writings touch on a diverse array of genres, his poetry remains of particular interest: currently, over thirty completed poems have been identified, several of which were published during his lifetime. Study of these poetic works not only illuminates the contours of Dr. Havard’s own life experiences, but also invites deeper consideration of his role within the Inklings.
Accordingly, this paper will trace recurring themes and elements in Dr. Havard’s poetry, as well as explore the poetic relationships between R. E. Havard and Lewis, among others. In The Company They Keep, Diana Glyer identifies referential writings as evidence of “strong mutual influence” (189), even noting literary references as “a form of influence in its purest sense” (167). Reflecting such impact, Havard is honored in several of Lewis’s poems, including “The Admiral Stamped on the Quarter Deck” and “Five Sonnets.” These referents, coupled with new evidence that Lewis both read and provided written feedback on Havard’s own poetry, enriches understanding not only of Havard as a writer, but of his role within the Inklings. Notably, Havard’s poetic collaborations extended beyond the group, including figures such as artist and sculptor Rosamund Fletcher. By identifying such connections and collaborations, this paper—as part of a larger book project on Robert E. Havard—highlights the importance of renewed scholarly interest in the “lesser-known” members of the Inklings, as well as invites broader consideration of patterns of influence within the group.
Glyer, Diana Pavlac. The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. Kent, OH: Kent State U, 2008. Print.
Oral History Interview with R. E. Havard, conducted by Lyle W. Dorsett for the Marion E. Wade Center [26 July 1984].
Sayer, George. Jack: C.S. Lewis and His times. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994. Print.
Copyright held by Artist
Mythcon 52: The Mythic, the Fantastic, and the Alien
Albuquerque, New Mexico; July 29 - August 1, 2022