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Davidman, Helen Joy.


Biographical Statement

Helen Joy Davidman was born on April 18, 1915 into a Jewish family residing in New York. Joy graduated from Evander Childs High School at age 14 and completed her college work at Hunter College in 1934. She was awarded a master’s degree in English literature from Columbia University in December 1935. During Joy’s writing career she published poetry, articles (including film and poetry reviews for The New Masses), and several books.

By the late 1930s Joy had joined the Communist Party and married fellow writer William Lindsay Gresham on August 24, 1942. She and Gresham had two sons: David Lindsay Gresham (born March 27, 1944) and Douglas Howard Gresham (born November 10, 1945). Joy became a Christian in 1948, helped in part by reading the works of C.S. Lewis with whom she began corresponding in 1950. Joy first met C.S. Lewis on a five month trip to England beginning in August 1952.

Joy and Bill Gresham were legally separated by summer, 1953. In November of that year, Joy took David and Douglas to live in England. Her marriage ended in divorce, finalized on July 28, 1954. Joy and Lewis continued their friendship and he provided Joy with support to help her forge a new life in England. They were married in a civil ceremony on April 23, 1956, and again in a bedside hospital ceremony with a priest on March 21, 1957. Joy had been diagnosed with a fast-spreading cancer, but shortly after her marriage with Lewis enjoyed a recovery that lasted nearly three years. Her cancer returned in October 1959, and she died on July 13, 1960.

Joy’s relationship with C.S. Lewis is the subject of two motion pictures and a stage play entitled: Shadowlands.

Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

And God Came In / A Love Observed Archive

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Wade-A-26 through A-28
Abstract This archive contains the materials related to the book "And God Came In" by Lyle W. Dorsett (New York:MacMillan and Co. 1983.), republished as "A Love Observed" (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers. 1998).  Dr. Dorsett donated his materials from the research and writing of the book to the Wade Center in 1990. The book is a biography of Joy Davidman Lewis. Joy was married twice, first to Bill Gresham, an American writer and magazine editor with whom she had two sons (Douglas and David...
Dates: Created: 1915-1994; Other: Majority of material found in 1915-1960

Chad Walsh Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-57

This archive contains Chad Walsh's personal letters to and from C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman, as well as correspondence between Chad Walsh and others on the subject of the Lewis family, and correspondence with his wife, Eva, during his travels in England in summer 1948 while researching for his book about Lewis. Correspondence relating to Walsh's book, C.S. Lewis: Apostle to the Skeptics (New York: Macmillan, 1949), is also included.

Dates: Created: 1939-1991; Other: Majority of material found in 1945-1963

Douglas and Merrie Gresham Family Archive

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-29

This archive of the Gresham Family contains manuscript material by family members and background information.

Dates: Created: 1984-1997

Joy Davidman Papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-109

This collection contains correspondence, personal papers, and poetry and prose written by Joy Davidman. A few documents also relate to her first husband Bill Gresham, her sons David and Douglas Gresham, and her second husband C.S. Lewis. These materials are on deposit as an extended loan courtesy of Douglas Gresham.

Dates: Created: 1926-1964

Norman Stone Papers

 Collection — Container: Books
Identifier: SC-013
Scope and Contents The Norman Stone collection (SC-13) provides a look at the development of television productions from the perspective of a director/producer. Mr. Stone's materials give an overview of the entire production process starting with the inception of an idea and following through the research, writing, casting, and editing of a successful program. This collection contains a wide variety of materials including papers, desk diaries, correspondence, and non print media. Although the collection spans...
Dates: Created: 1973-2015; Other: Majority of material found in 1979-2004; Other: Date acquired: 1983

William Lindsay Gresham Correspondence

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Wade-A-51a

This archive contains correspondence to and from William (Bill) Lindsay Gresham. Others involved include C.S. Lewis, Joy Davidman, and Douglas and David Gresham. Also included is correspondence to Marj Mead from Lyle Dorsett concerning the acquisition of the Gresham letters.

Dates: Created: 1940-1982; Other: Majority of material found in 1950-1960

Additional filters:

Davidman, Joy -- Correspondence. 3
Davidman, Joy -- Archives. 2
Davidman, Joy -- Family. 2
Lewis, C. S. -- Correspondence. 2
Lewis, C. S. -- Family. 2