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Encyclopedia > Joy Davidman

Joy Gresham (November 1915 - 1960) was a poet, a politically radical Jewish convert to orthodox Christianity, mother of Douglas Gresham, and wife of C. S. Lewis. She moved from her native New York to England in 1953, where she met and married Lewis, her second husband, having been inspired by his books on Christianity. (Her first husband William drank heavily and eventually left her for another woman.) A former communist and atheistic Jew, Gresham was brought to examine and subsequently convert to the Christian faith, largely through Lewis' writings. His intellectual equal, she captivated Lewis, who first married her out of convenience so that she could retain British residency. When she fell ill with cancer, he married her so that she would not have to return to America. In time, he realized how much he loved her and proposed to marry her properly, "before God." She recovered briefly, but eventually succumbed to cancer. It claimed her life in 1960 at the age of forty-five; Lewis died one week shy of his sixty-fifth birthday three years later on November 22, 1963, the same day American president John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Shadowlands, a romanticized version of her life with Lewis starring Anthony Hopkins as Jack (C.S. Lewis) and Debra Winger as Joy, was released for HBO in 1993 and is now available on DVD. It was preceded by a BBC production and a stage play; all were or more less loosely based on Douglas Gresham's book Lenten Lands.

Maiden name: Joy Davidman

Headstone Epitaph

Here the whole world
       (stars, water, air,
And field, and forest, as they were
Reflected in a single mind)
Like cast off clothes was left behind
In ashes, yet with hopes that she,
Re-born from holy poverty,
In lenten lands, hereafter may

Resume them on her Easter Day.

See also

Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis

External links

  • In Lenten Lands (http://www.mrrena.com/Lewis.shtml)
  • The Kilns: C.S. Lewis' Oxford Refuge (http://www.scriptorum.org/l/kilns.html)
  • C.S. Lewis: 20th-Century Christian Knight (http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ26.HTM)

  Results from FactBites:
Great Romances - Past and Present » A Grief Observed (812 words)
Joy was suffering from cancer by then and their time together was brief but intense.
Their relationship continued to deepen and, when Joy was admitted to hospital, apparently dying of cancer, Jack at last admitted his true feelings and they were married again by a priest.
Joy had taught him that he was as human as anyone and that intellectual rigor is no substitute for love.
Joy Davidman Biography (1077 words)
In 1934, when Davidman was nineteen, she witnessed a suicide in which a hungry orphan jumped from the roof of a building at Hunter College, and according to journalist Oliver Pilat, this incident enabled her to grasp the economic impact of the depression on the poor (1 Nov. 1949, 36).
Davidman's inability to ignore poverty and unfairness, coupled with her exposure to the Spanish Civil war and art from the Soviet Union and her "[y]outhful rebelliousness, youthful vanity, [and] youthful contempt of the 'stupid people' who seemed to be running society.
This technique is crucial for Davidman because she advocates a classless society in which the more affluent middle class helps the disadvantaged, and she uses the reader as a character to persuade audiences to accept her beliefs or to reaffirm their political commitment.
  More results at FactBites »



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