In this definitive biography of Joy Davidman, we read the real love story that the major motion picture, Shadowlands, could not tell. Lyle Dorsett reveals Davidman’s profound influence on C.S. Lewis’s life and writings.
Helen Joy Davidman (1915–1960) was an American poet and writer, a radical communist, and an atheist until her conversion to Christianity in the late 1940s. Her first husband was the writer William Lindsay Gresham. Her second marriage was to the writer and Oxford don, C. S. Lewis.
Joy separated from her first husband and moved to England in 1954 with her two sons, David and Douglas Gresham. Lewis at first regarded her as an agreeable intellectual companion and personal friend, and it was at least overtly on this level that he agreed to enter into a civil marriage contract with her so that she could continue to live in the UK. It then became clear that she had terminal bone cancer, and the relationship developed to the point that they sought a Christian marriage in 1956. She recovered briefly, but eventually succumbed to cancer. Lewis wrote A Grief Observed in response to her death.
Who was the outspoken, dynamic woman named Joy who became C. S. Lewis’s wife? The popular movie Shadowlands tells part of the story, but the woman who came from New York with her two children was still an enigma, until Lewis expert and archivist Lyle Dorsett undertook to look into the life and character of this unusual woman. And God Came In tells a more complete story, not only about the brief marriage between the erudite and accomplished Lewis and Joy Davidman, but also of the famously vivid and assertive woman herself.
“Originally published in 1988, I found this story of the life of this extraordinary woman to be an ideal compliment to George Sayer’s biography of C.S.Lewis originally entitled Jack: C.S.Lewis and His Times (1988) reprinted by Hodder in 2005 as Jack: A Life of C.S.Lewis.
“Joy Davidman was born into a Jewish family in New York City, 1915. Both sets of grandparents were immigrants who practiced their religion, Joy’s father did not, in fact he brought up his children harshly, insisted that they follow his atheism, and put great pressure on his children to achieve. As Joy was very bright, beyond her years, with an exceptionally high IQ, she gained entry to University at an early age and was writing poetry and short stories from the start.
“These early chapters did not describe a particularly likeable young woman, by the time she married at twenty-seven, she and her husband were committed members of the Communist Party but both were aware there was something missing in their lives.
“The story continues, telling how both Joy and Bill became Christians, Bill to drop away, becoming an alcoholic, Joy to grow nearer to Christ, drawing great comfort from the writings of C.S.Lewis.
“This account of her life and subsequent marriage to C.S.Lewis is a worthwhile read, highly recommended.”
—The Good Book Stall
About the Author
Lyle W. Dorsett is a Professor at the Beeson School of Divinity at Samford University. He is a former faculty member of Wheaton College, and a bestselling author. His books include A Passion for Souls: The Life of D. L. Moody and The Essential C. S. Lewis. Lyle and his wife, Mary, founded Christ for Children International, a mission to economically impoverished children in Mexico.