How long did Walter Hooper spend with C.S. Lewis in 1963?

I just opened my 1980s copy of Of This and Other Worlds, a collection of CSL’s essays, edited by Walter Hooper.

The inside cover blurb caught my eye “In 1963 [Hooper] became companion-secretary to C.S. Lewis, a post he filled for the remaining months of the Professor’s life.”

If I recall correctly from other books, Hooper had to return to the States in the autumn of '63 to attend to some of his affairs. So, all you Lewis scholars out there, a couple of questions:

  1. When did Hooper first meet Lewis?
  2. When did he return to the States?

And seeing as this is the Dope, and every list must have a third item:

  1. Did he return to Oxford before Lewis’s death? (or put another way, was he there when Lewis died?)

Hooper sent a few letters to Lewis between the time he first read Lewis’s books in the early 1950’s and the time he came to Oxford in 1963. He was nothing more than just another one of Lewis’s many correspondents though. He persuaded a somewhat reluctant Lewis to meet with him in 1963.

Hooper came to Oxford for one of those typical American university “Spend a summer at Oxford” programs, where the program is actually run by the American university, not Oxford, and hence is not for credit at Oxford. Often the courses are taught entirely by American professors. Hooper was a student that summer and Lewis was deathly ill at the time. They knew each other in person for at most two months and made have only actually met on a few days in that period. Lewis never considered Hooper his secretary. At most Hooper helped him write a few letters.

Hooper went back to the U.S. in August. He didn’t return to England till early 1964. He certainly was not there when Lewis died.

I can offer some excerpts from Jack, the biography by George Sayer, who was apparently present toward the end of Lewis’s life.

The earliest mention in Sayer’s bio is

Sayer doesn’t say explicitly, but the impression I get is that he did not.

[QUOTE=George Sayer]
…he made a reference to Mrs. Moore as if she were still living, and I saw that he was suffering from delusions. He then asked me if I had met Walter Hooper. “I’ve engaged him as my secretary,” he said.]And later…

This doesn’t contradict any of Wendell’s claims except that “Lewis never considered Hooper his secretary”; apparently he did, though at a time when there was some doubt whether Lewis was completely mentally reliable.

What are your sources for these claims?

I’ve read Sayer, plus three other Lewis bios, but I’m greatly aware, both having worked- reluctantly - in PR for many years, and having fought a two-year legal battle (up against 15 witnesses) in which “construction” and “reconstruction” are absolutely key elements in the forensic process (both pre-trial and at trial), and having written as my PhD thesis a critique of postmodernist approaches to discourse analysis, just how untrustworthy recounts of events are. Especially, when people have great emotional, or philosophical, investment in them.

Wendell, that didn’t mean to be as brusque as it came out. I note the force of the ‘may’ in regard of their personal meetings. But still - I’d be interested in where the information is coming from.

It sounds like the Kathryn Lindskoog (sp?) interpretation of the Hooper-Lewis relationship. A.N. Wilson may have taken the same view, IIRC (yes, I did read his bio of Jack; No, I didn’t despise it- I found Jack much more complex & sympathetic-
as it really conveyed the trauma of his mother’s death & his love/comtempt relationship with his father.)

I think A.N. Wilson’s is the pick of the bio bunch. Friends and acolytes seldom write the best bios.

I read the Linds-whatshername in interesting circumstances some years ago, when browsing the Hong Kong University for CSL books. My most salient memory is thinking "Mmmm, she accuses Hooper of all this dissimulation, but the biggest con has been pulled by Kath herself, calling her book (or allowing the publishers to call it - same difference, if you’re playing the moral crusader) The C.S. Lewis Hoax, instead of The Walter Hooper Hoax.) The, of course far fewer people would have read it, but at least no one could have accused her of, um, dissimulating…

Wendell, cite please!

It’s going to take me a while to look up the citation.