Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis’s Private Secretary and Conservator of Literary Legacy, Has Passed Away

Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis’s private secretary during his final months in 1963 and trustee of his literary works for more than half a century, has passed away at the age of 89 after contracting the coronavirus.

Walter Hooper was born in Reidsville, North Carolina, and graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1954. After being introduced to the works of C.S. Lewis by the captain of the football team, Hooper was able to find a copy of Lewis’s book Miracles which he then smuggled into Army boot camp by hiding it in his fatigues.

His admiration for Lewis’s writings inspired him to write to the author, which sparked a correspondence with Lewis that lasted until Hooper went to visit him in Oxford, England, in the summer of 1963. The two quickly struck up a friendship, and Lewis, in declining health and widowed three years before, asked Hooper to live with him as his secretary. Lewis died a few months later on November 22nd, 1963.

During the days following C.S. Lewis’s death, Hooper was instrumental in preserving Lewis’s legacy by rescuing his papers and manuscripts from destruction. In the many decades since, Hooper’s dedication to the late author’s work has continued by serving as trustee of the literary estate, making him a key figure in putting Lewis’s library of work on bookshelves around the world. He edited manuscripts, published collections of Lewis’s letters, and re-published out-of-print books. For fans of Narnia, one of Hooper’s most interesting contributions was the inclusion of the Narnia timeline in his book Past Watchful Dragons.

The staff at NarniaWeb would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Mr. Hooper’s family and friends, and our sincere gratitude for his many years spent in service of C.S. Lewis’s literary legacy.

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

26 Responses

  1. EJH says:

    I am praying for his family and I also want to convey my gratitude for his efforts in chronicling Lewis’ life.

  2. coracle says:

    He was truly devoted to the task he had taken on, having only known Jack Lewis for less than three months, and being in USA (getting his things in order to return to work with Jack) at the time of Jack’s death. He then worked on his own, with a huge amount of books and papers to process.

  3. Cleander says:

    Truly a sad passing. He helped preserve and expand Lewis’s legacy, and there’s a good amount of Lewis’s work we would never have seen if not for him, including some of Lewis’s essays on Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
    Praying for his family in this sad time.
    Hooper seems to have had some good times with Lewis in the short time that they knew each other. He recounted once that at Christmas, Lewis had just got done remarking that he never gave or received Christmas gifts when he noticed that Hooper had a set of Arthurian books that he’d been trying to find copies of for a while. Hooper told Lewis that if he wanted the books, he could have them… to which Lewis sheepishly replied, “After what I have just said, would you…could you part with them?”

    • KBrowne says:

      A nice story. But it cannot have happened at Christmas. Hooper first met Lewis in June 1963 and he returned to America at the end of August. Lewis died in November. They were never together at Christmas.

      • Cleander says:

        My mistake… they were actually merely talking about Christmas gifts, but not during the Christmas season.
        Thanks for pointing that out!

  4. Courtenay says:

    RIP Walter Hooper — my thoughts and condolences to his family and friends. He did a truly great work in preserving Lewis’s legacy for future generations, including ourselves and hopefully many more to come!

  5. Larry W. says:

    Thank you, Mr. Hooper for preserving and sharing the legacy of C. S. Lewis. Let’s hope that everything that Lewis achieved will always be respected and cherished with the same regard that Mr. Hooper had for Lewis’ writings.

  6. Glenwit says:

    I have a newfound respect for this man, after realizing just how much we have to thank him for. Truly the epitome of an unseen warrior.
    I like to think he and Jack are reading Chapter 1 of the Great Story together right now.

  7. Robert Rix says:

    Unfortunately for a talent…RIP

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