Adventist Professor to
Enter C.S. Lewis’ World
Higgens will oversee ‘The Kilns’ for two years
BY MEGAN BRAUNER, Media Relations assistant, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
A Seventh-day Adventist English professor will spend the next two years overseeing the home of Christian apologist and writer C.S. Lewis in Oxford, England.
Debbie Higgens, who has devoted much of her career to studying and teaching about Lewis, is the new resident director of the home the author inhabited for 20 years. The Kilns is the birthplace of some of Lewis' most beloved works, including The Chronicles of Narnia series.
Higgens, a professor at Southern Adventist University, has a long history with the C.S. Lewis Foundation. She has visited The Kilns off and on since the mid 1990s and stayed there for six months in 2007.
LEWIS SCHOLAR: Professor Debbie Higgens of Southern Adventist University will oversee “The Kilns,” Christian apologist C.S. Lewis’ home in Oxford, England, for the next two years. [SAU photo]
“I wrote the last two chapters of my dissertation in the office where they think Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia,” Higgens said. “The [doctoral] committee said the last two chapters were my best.”
Part of Higgens’ duties will involve overseeing the scholars-in-residence program, which allows doctoral candidates from Oxford to stay at The Kilns while working on their dissertations. She is the fourth person to hold the position.
“The people who [directed The Kilns] since the 2006 start of the scholars in residence are wonderful people, but not academics,” Higgens said. “I hope to bring the academic side.”
Higgens also teaches a class on C.S. Lewis at Southern, the Seventh-day Adventist university located in Collegedale, Tennessee. She is taking a two-year break to fill the unpaid position at The Kilns.
“I do feel called to do this,” Higgens said. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to take this step.”
Higgens hopes to share what she calls the “magic atmosphere” with short-term visitors who come to tour the author’s home.
“Lewis loved the house, he loved the location,” she said. “It was all rural then.”
Lewis frequently drew from his surroundings in his writings, Higgens said, and visitors are often surprised at what they find. “When it snows, you can imagine Mr. Tumnus coming out of the woods . . . because he wrote about his own backyard.”