Published on September 29, 2020 by Leighton Doores  

Samford University hosted New York Times best-selling author Patti Callahan Henry on Sept. 22 for the 10thannual Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series. Presented by Orlean Beeson School of Education, Henry shared insights and stories of inspiration from her book, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, a motivational account of the life of Joy Davidman Lewis, wife of legendary writer C.S. Lewis.

“Joy and Jack’s (C.S. Lewis) 10-year love story produced some of C.S. Lewis’ best work,” said Henry. “Once I started to see his work through a new light and realized how Joy had been much more than just his wife and best friend, she had also been his muse and she had worked with him, I realized that we needed to meet her on new terms. We needed to meet Joy Davidman not as the woman behind the man, as the phrase goes, but as the woman beside the man. How often do we get to hear that part of the story?”

To fully capture and convey the story of Mrs. Lewis, a brilliant and complicated woman, Henry retraced her steps from New York to Oxford. Becoming Mrs. Lewis beautifully documents Henry’s extensive research of Mrs. Lewis’ fascinating life and her unlikely love story.

“I think her story really talks to us about the power of story, about writing and about asking questions,” said Henry.

Henry believes the best books are living things that change as the reader changes. That’s how C.S. Lewis’ books were for her. Over time, she slowly began to uncover more about the person and story of Mrs. Lewis.

Henry soon realized how much Mrs. Lewis and C.S. Lewis had in common. They were both intellectuals and writers, atheists at one point, fascinated by mythology and both originally wanted to be poets. Becoming Mrs. Lewis was meant to show us the convoluted and complicated path that it took for them to be together.

“One of the things I think Joy really taught me personally is that it’s OK to never stop asking the bigger questions and it’s OK to not know the answers. It’s OK to not believe what you’re told,” said Henry.

Historically, proceeds from the Tom and Marla Corts Distinguished Author Series have supported the School of Education Excellence Fund allowing scholarships and academic resources to be provided for students where the needs are greatest. This year, Henry chose to forego her honorarium to support the Jewel Littleton Scholarship which is awarded to minority students of any classification who demonstrate significant financial need and are pursuing any degree offered within Orlean Beeson School of Education. To join Henry in making a gift visit Samford.edu/give/corts.

Funded by the Thomas E. and Marla Haas Corts Endowment, the series provides support to host an annual visiting author who is not only a notable name in their field, but challenges, inspires and expands the thinking of students to become more engaged in matters of significant intellectual or historical interest and vital issues of the day.

“We are so grateful that the Corts family continues to support this event so that we may further the Samford experience for all of our students,” said Orlean Beeson School of Education Dean Anna McEwan.

Throughout the last decade, attendees have been inspired from such beloved and admired leaders as Laura Bush, Wendell Berry, Eric Motley, Greg Mortenson, Garrison Keillor, Wes Moore, Parker Palmer, Philip Yancey and Anthony Ray Hinton.

Click here to view the event.