Tolkien Gateway

Owen Barfield

Arthur Owen Barfield (9 November, 189814 December, 1997) was a fellow Inkling with J.R.R. Tolkien. He did not attend a great deal of the Inklings meetings due to living and working in London, a ways away from the Eagle and Child. Tolkien however was very fond of Barfield's works.


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"I met Tolkien but never had a long talk with him…I wish I had…We did not get to talk for several hours. He's an important figure in the English literary world of our time. I don't have any affinity with it – the mythical world. The real enthusiasts of the Tolkien society have more than enjoyed it they have made a kind of cult of it."

Barfield said that Tolkien's children were very fond of his book "The Silver Trumpet" and regarded it as a sort of Bible:

"Tolkien's children for a time regarded it as a kind of Bible...many of the characters, were kind of catch-words in the family..."
S. - How far did you know Tolkien? B. - I didn't know him very well. I met him a number of times at meetings of the Inklings - I didn't go always - and also with Lewis. Once we had a short walking tour, Lewis, Tolkien, and I, just when war was threatening, but then we never talked as we are talking now. And I never became an enthusiast for The lord of the Rings. S. - I got stuck on page 337. B. - I don't think I got as far as that. I got The Hobbit, read it to my son. S. - Tolkien quoted you in one of his lectures, I think. B. - He told Lewis, not long after he had read Poetic Diction, that to a certain extent it changed him - that he found there were things he could no longer say at his lectures. That was brought up by Verlyn Flieger in her book Splintered Light.

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  1. "Saving the Final Appearance: A Visit with Owen Barfield a few months before his death" , Allen Pitmann (accessed 8 September 2014)
  2. "Owen Barfield and Clyde Kilby on C.S. Lewis" dated 3 November 1977, YouTube (accessed 25 December 2014)
  3. 'Owen Barfield: Interview with Elmar Schenkel'. Sept 1991 in Old Crow 2, Amherst Mass, 1993. Reprinted, in English, as “Interview mit Owen Barfield.” Inklings: Jahrbuch für Literature und Ästhetik 11 (1993),p.p 23-38

The Inklings
J.R.R. Tolkien · J.A.W. Bennett · Lord David Cecil · Nevill Coghill · James Dundas-Grant · Hugo Dyson · Adam Fox · Colin Hardie · Robert Havard · C.S. Lewis · Warren Lewis · Gervase Mathew · R.B. McCallum · C.E. Stevens · Christopher Tolkien · John Wain · Charles Williams · Charles Leslie Wrenn