Why C.S. Lewis Dedicated “The Magician’s Nephew” to Kilmer Family
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Dear Hugh, Anne, Noelie (There is a name I haven’t heard before; what language is it, and does it rhyme with oily or mealy or Kelly or early or truly?), Nicholas, Martin, Rosamund, Matthew and Miriam–
Thank you very much for all the lovely letters and pictures . . .C.S. Lewis, letter to Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead
C.S. Lewis had been corresponding with the Kilmer children for a few years before he dedicated The Magician’s Nephew to them. A significant part of Letters to Children covers some of their correspondence, including letters to all of the children, as well as some to individual children. Hugh Kilmer in particular had an ongoing conversation with Lewis about theology. Lewis responded to the children’s letters with encouraging comments about their drawings, some serious answers to their questions, and also with witty wordplay:
Congratulations on [your new baby sister] Deborah to you all. I like red hair. I never saw a picture of a [baby] shower before. I had to put up my umbrella to look at it.C.S. Lewis, letter
A collection of the letters went up for auction last year.
The Kilmers began writing to Lewis after he had already corresponded with their honorary “Aunt Mary Willis”. Lewis’ letters to her are collected in Letters to an American Lady by Clyde S. Kilby.
Outside of Narnia and Lewis enthusiasts, the Kilmers are mostly known for being the grandchildren of Joyce Kilmer, a famous poet who died in WWI, and for becoming artists themselves. Many of them went on to become musicians, painters, and authors.