Sheldon Vanauken is one of Will's favorite authors. He corresponded with Vanauken during the last year of his life. Van, as he was known to friends, was a professor of history and English literature at Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is best known for his autobiographical book A Severe Mercy (1977), which recounts his and his wife Davy's friendship with C. S. Lewis, their conversion to Christianity and their subsequent dealing with the "severe mercy" of Davy's death. Vanauken was also the author of a booklet detailing his conversion to Christianity, Encounter with Light (1960), a novel, Gateway to Heaven (1980), a sequel to A Severe Mercy entitled Under the Mercy (1985), The Glittering Illusion: English Sympathy for the Southern Confederacy (1985), Mercies: Collected Poems (1988) and The Little Lost Marion and Other Mercies (1996).
To download and listen to a recording of Sheldon Vanauken reading from the first chapter of A Severe Mercy click the link above. This recording is reproduced here by permission of the Martha Arney Library for the Blind.