Rescued from the bonfire, the lost work of C S Lewis

The author CS Lewis loved reading his translation of Virgil's epic poem the Aeneid to fellow Oxford-based writers, including JRR Tolkien, at the Inklings, the famous informal literary discussion group they both frequented.

The translation was believed to have been lost in a bonfire in 1964, a year after the author's death. Now, nearly 50 years later, it has resurfaced. The work was apparently rescued by Lewis's former secretary, Walter Hooper, 79. The complete translation is to be published in the book CS Lewis's Lost Aeneid, which is out next month.

"Although it had been known that Lewis had worked on this translation, no one realised that portions still survived until Walter began sifting through his material," said the book's editor, Andy Reyes. "The bonfire, it was assumed, had consumed the most significant fragments of Lewisiana."

Lewis first started work on the translation in 1935, when he was 37, and it is believed he returned to it several times throughout his life.

Another fragment of Lewis's writing which was published after being thought lost was his abandoned novel The Dark Tower. In the book's introduction, Hooper describes how Lewis's brother, Major Warren Lewis, began clearing out The Kilns, Lewis's former home, "preparatory to moving to a smaller house".

"Major Lewis, after setting aside those papers which had special significance for him, began disposing of the others," wrote Hooper. "Thus it was that a great many things which I was never able to identify found their way on to a bonfire which burned steadily for three days."

According to Hooper, Lewis's gardener, Fred Paxford, who was instructed to burn the author's manuscripts, knew that Hooper had "the highest regard for anything in the master's hand". The gardener was instructed to burn a number of notebooks, but managed to convince Major Lewis to delay until Hooper could see them.

"By what seems more than coincidence, I appeared at The Kilns that very day and learned that unless I carried the papers away with me that afternoon they would indeed be destroyed," Hooper wrote. "There were so many that it took all my strength and energy to carry them back to Keble College." For the past 46 years, Hooper has spent his time sifting through the saved material before it is transported to Oxford's Bodleian Library. Four years ago, he realised that fragments of the famous Aeneid translation, referred to by Tolkien in his own letters, had escaped his attention. Since then he has worked with Reyes to piece together the translation, which exists in fragments spread across several notebooks.

Reyes and Hooper began collaborating when Reyes was a visiting scholar at Oxford University's Wolfson College. "He asked me to write out any notes that would help a general reader understand the text," said Reyes. "These notes were a glossary explaining classical allusions which were too long to be incorporated into a new edition of Lewis's collected poetry, and so Walter wondered if the Aeneid translation could stand on its own as a volume."

Lewis absorbed himself in Greek mythology from an early age. He read Greek and Latin literature along with philosophy and ancient history at Oxford in the 1920s. He was a fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford, between 1925 and 1954, and later was the first Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at the University of Cambridge.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?