The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Pavlac Glyer


Goodreads: The Company They Keep
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: 2008


In this groundbreaking study, Glyer proposes to change our understanding of the Inklings by going against the common understanding that the Inklings did not influence each other’s writings. She defines the difference between “influences” and “similarities” and goes on to outline how writers can be influenced by resonators (supporters), opponents, editors, collaborators, and referents.

Star Divider


Diana Pavlac Glyer’s book represents an important contribution to Inklings studies.  While many have argued that the Inklings had no influence on one another, often quoting Inklings who said as much, Glyer argues that influence means far more than textual similarities.  She illustrates how the group members offered encouragement and support, edited each other’s projects, sometimes opposed projects, collaborated, and referenced each other in their works.  She illuminates the work not only of the Inklings but also of writing groups in general.

The beauty of Glyer’s work is that it seems so obvious once she says it. Some readers may be tempted to dismiss it for that reason.  However, it is important to remember that her arguments were not obvious to many for a very long time.  Assertions by the Inklings themselves that they had no influence on each other were taken at face value, rather than read in context.  The ways in which they supported each other by reviewing, editing, and just listening were ignored.  There are copies of Inkling drafts with the handwriting of other Inklings on them–and yet this was apparently not significant to many scholars.  All because influence studies focused on finding one-to-one correspondences in published work.

The writing may appear academic to some, but the text is supremely readable, even if written in more formal a style than many are familiar with.  Glyer’s points are clear and crisp, and any lay reader should be able to follow along.  There is no jargon here, nor attempts to make up new words or string big words together in the hopes of sounding learned.  The Inklings themselves would likely be pleased, as clarity was always their aim.

So if you’re interested in the Inklings or even in how writing groups come together and work, check out Glyer’s work.  It’s worth it.

4 stars

7 thoughts on “The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Pavlac Glyer

  1. Anne Marie Gazzolo says:

    Great book! Made me want to join a writing group myself. The group I joined (and later left) filled its purpose and restarted my fantasy writing engine. The fruits will take some years to come out but a life-changer for sure.

    Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie 🙂


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