Travel with series

Travel with C S Lewis

Ronald W. Bresland
Day One, 2007, £10.00, Pbk., 128p.;
ISBN 9781843250569

Travel with William Cowper

Paul Williams
Day One, 2006, £10.00, Pbk., 128p.,
ISBN 9781846250576

Day One’s ‘Travel With’ series is intended to be a well researched biography and travel guide for general readers and armchair travellers. As such, the attractive pocket format is well illustrated and includes maps and contact details for places of interest, with a with a striking resemblance to the well- known Insight Travel guides. It’s inevitable that the arrangement by place shapes the biographical presentation to fit in with this – and some of the places illustrated have fairly tenuous connects with the biographies.

The biographies are faith stories and succeed in giving a clear, if somewhat simplistic introduction to the lives of Lewis and Cowper. (There are also activity books available for children) However, both include useful suggestions for more in depth reading.

Ronald Bresland (C.S.Lewis) is an authority on Lewis’ Irish background and this adds an extra dimension to the more well known account of Lewis’ Oxford days, his conversion, and the genesis of the Narnia stories. In spite of the misery of Lewis’ childhood, the loughs and hills of the County Down landscape became his idea of both Narnia, and ’as near heaven as you can get in Thulcandra (the name he gave to earth in his science fiction trilogy’.

Paul Williams shapes his account of William Cowper around the notion of demonstrating his status as ‘the evangelical poet’. I found Williams’ overt didacticism and focus on the point of Cowper’s conversion detracted at times from the moving account of his struggle with recurrent depression and despair The inclusion of extracts from some of his poems and hymns is a powerful reminder of just how much our worship and metaphor has been shaped by his writing.

But, how well can these guides work as travel and biography? Having said that, I think I want to explore some of the places in London connected with Cowper at a future visit!

Contributed by: Margaret Keeling, MA, MCLIP, PhD, who is CLIS Vice-President and who worked until her retirement as Head of Services for Libraries, Culture and Adult Community Learning for Essex County Council.