Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dinner at 10 Whitehorse Terrace

The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

“Narnia” and “Middle-earth” - these mystical lands are legendary and well-known to many readers, young and old. These mythical stories were created by two brilliant authors, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, whose love of myth and legend brought to us many wondrous and magical stories. The following real life short story goes back to 1956 when a lovely Canadian lady,
Joyce Boag, while visiting family in the U.K. had the good fortune of meeting Lewis and Tolkien. Joyce wrote the following story and would like to share it with us.

While in England in 1956 my mother's cousin, Vi, had arranged a trip to Scotland to visit her cousin Jewel Baillie, wife of Professor Baillie. Professor Baillie taught Theology at the University of Edinburgh and was Chaplain to the Queen and her family when they stayed at Balmoral castle. Vi and I arrived at the Baillie’s home late in the afternoon and were shown to our rooms where we prepared ourselves for a formal dinner party. Jewel mentioned to Vi and I that we were in luck as two famous authors of children's books were invited for dinner that evening.

John, Florence Jewel and Ian Baillie
Photograph from "The Baillie Project", Edinburgh University Library

Joyce Boag

After we prepared ourselves, we made our way downstairs for cocktail hour, the two authors had arrived and we were introduced to them. They were both charming people. When we were introduced, I was not familiar with the names Lewis or Tolkien at that time. The very large and stately living room was cold so we stood around a small fireplace where we enjoyed our cocktails and engaging conversation.

When dinner was announced with a gong, the butler ushered us into a grand dining room featuring a very large and beautifully laid out refectory table. I was seated next to Mr. Lewis and across the table from us were seated Vi and Mr. Tolkien. Professor Baillie and his wife were seated at the ends of the table. Mr. Lewis was very interested in my life stories and also my interests. I spoke to him of my love for horses which he was very keen to hear about. I asked him about his writing and his children’s books, he acknowledged he was an author but did not want to talk about himself at that time.

I mentioned a few of my favourite children’s books which I had read, “Wind in the Willows“, “Winnie the Pooh“, " Black Beauty", “The Black Stallion” and “The Son of the Black Stallion“. I was not yet familiar with his books. He graciously nodded approval, even though I was sure he had never heard of the “Black Stallion” or “The Son of the Black Stallion“.

After several courses at dinner were served by the maid, Professor Baillie kept us all greatly entertained with wonderful and amusing stories. It was a hilarious evening which seemed to end far too soon.

I later wrote home and asked my mother, who was an avid reader, if she was familiar with Lewis and Tolkien. She was not familiar with the two authors, but upon research at the library came across the Narnia series. Since that time “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Hobbit” have become favourites in our family library.

10 Whitehorse Terrace
Home of the Baillie's


Gillian Olson said...

Interesting story of two great writters.

Sheila said...

Michelle - your blog is so fascinating and should be viewed by more readers. Would you mind if I mentioned your blog on mine? I think Canadians in particular would be fascinated by the quality of your posts and by the interesting tales of history you present here on your blog.

Olga said...

That's an interesting story. I enjoyed reading it.
I found your blog through Sheila's blog. And I'm glad I did.
Thank you for visiting me and your kind comment.

Cindy said...

What a great story! I love it.
Hugs, Cindy

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