How Heathen was Britain

  ...in the days of C. S. Lewis?






discoloured jacket of a copy in         

the University Library of Utrecht     

(click for 1000×687)             


“This very obvious fact – that each generation is taught by an earlier generation – must be kept very firmly in mind. ... To other readers this book will doubtless sug­gest very different reflections. But all of us, whatever our party, need to know the facts. Here they stand; and stated, if I mistake not, with that freshness and attrac­tion which always come to a plain man who has something to tell and is thinking of his story, not himself.”



C. S. Lewis’s essay “On the Transmission of Christianity” was first published as the preface to a slim book by an unknown author in June 1946. Here is the full text:


64px-PDF.pngB. G. Sandhurst, How Heathen is Britain?

Collins, London 1948, revised and enlarged edition



Differences between the 1946 and 1948 editions are explained in Sandhurst’s Introduction. For publication details on Lewis’s preface as an essay, see www.lewisiana.nl/cslessays.


The name B. G. Sandhurst was a pseudonym for Charles Henry Green, a lieutenant-colonel attached to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. In C. S. Lewis’s Collected Letters there are no letters or references either to Green or to Sandhurst. I have not been able to find further information about him apart from the titles of two further books of his hand:

We Saw Her: The accounts of some of those present at Bernadette Soubirous’ visits to the grotto of Massabielle, February 11th - July 16th, 1858, translated and arranged by B. G. Sandhurst. With an Introduction by C. C. Martindale s.j. (Longmans Green & Co., London 1952). This book was reprinted in 1953. Another reprint was published in 1958, obviously to celebrate the centenary of the events at Lourdes, with a different subtitle: St Bernadette’s vision at Lourdes. Eye witness accounts. A Polish translation appeared in 1959 as Bernadeta Soubirous.

Miracles Still Happen: On the miraculous cures which have taken place at Lourdes and Oostakker (Burns & Oates, London 1957).


Arend Smilde

Utrecht, The Netherlands

March 2011