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
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.
Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis
- 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)