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Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL 60187-5593)
Laura Schmidt (Project Director: May 2017 to August 2019)
Conservation Assessment for C.S. Lewis's Personal Library Books

A conservation assessment of 420 books in need of treatment from the personal library of British author C.S. Lewis. The books were selected from a larger collection of over 2,400 volumes belonging to Lewis, because they are in fragile condition and can no longer sustain handling by researchers. Many of the books are annotated by Lewis or his family members and show the breadth of his personal reading habits and the depth of his engagement with works on education and literary criticism. Lewis’s annotations are of interest to scholars, as well as to general visitors. Library staff showcase Lewis’s note at the back of Don Juan by Lord Byron, where he wrote the date he read the book followed by the statement: “Never again!”

The Marion E. Wade Center is the most comprehensive repository in the world for materials relating to British author C.S. Lewis and owns over 2,400 volumes from Lewis’s personal library. Although best known for his classic children’s books The Chronicles of Narnia, the scholar and author also remains popular today in the fields of history, philosophy, literature, and religious studies. Lewis’s library books form one of the Wade Center's most heavily accessed collections, making them especially vulnerable to usage-damage. The volumes, never before evaluated by a conservator, contain Lewis’s annotations with unique, unpublished content. A NEH Preservation Assistance Grant would fund a conservation assessment for 420 of Lewis’s books judged most in need of treatment. Following the assessment, the Wade Center will create a long-term fundraising plan for conservation treatment of the books based on the assessment recommendations.

Project fields:
British History; British Literature

Preservation Assistance Grants

Preservation and Access

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 6/30/2019