posted December 14, 2005

Charles Huttar Co-Edits Book on Susan Howatch

Dr. Charles A. Huttar, professor emeritus of English at Hope College, has co-edited a book of essays on one of England's leading Christian novelists, Susan Howatch.

"Scandalous Truths: Essays by and about Susan Howatch," edited by Huttar and Bruce Johnson of James Madison University, gathers 10 essays about Howatch's fiction, as well as four essays by Howatch herself. The book has been published by Susquehanna University Press.

Susan Howatch is best known for her "Starbridge" series, six novels set in an imaginary Church of England cathedral community. They explore how faith operates in structures of power and social privilege. Her latest work is a trilogy dealing with a Christian healing ministry in inner-city London.

The Starbridge novels have been compared to the "Barchester" series of 19th-century author Anthony Trollope, Huttar said, but with "much greater psychological and theological depths and a frankness in examining the seamy side of clergymen's lives."

Previously known as a best-selling author of family saga novels, Howatch is now recognized as a serious literary artist, Huttar noted. "Scandalous Truths," the first book-length study of her work, is the culmination of a decade of scholarly presentations and articles. It traces the growth of her intellectual interests as well as her experiments with narrative technique.

Howatch's contributions to the book include "Do Christian Novels Exist?" and "Risks and Rewards in Writing the Saga Novel." Other contributors come from nine institutions in the United States and Canada.

In 1993 Howatch gave an endowment to the University of Cambridge to establish the Starbridge Lectureship in Science and Theology.

Huttar has maintained a correspondence with Howatch for many years and has spoken about her work at academic conferences.

The Hope College Board of Trustees voted in 2001 to award Howatch an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Poor health prevented her at the time from coming to Michigan to accept the award. Discussions are currently under way with Howatch to schedule a visit to Hope in the coming year.

Huttar was a professor of English from 1966 until his retirement in 1996 and served as chair of the department from 1971 to 1976. He is a graduate of Wheaton College with a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He taught for 11 years at Gordon College before moving to Hope.

He has published widely on Renaissance and 17th-century literature and the works of C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and J.R.R. Tolkien. He has previously edited or co-edited "Imagination and the Spirit: Essays in Literature and the Christian Faith Presented to Clyde S. Kilby" (1971), "Word and Story in C. S. Lewis" (1991), and "The Rhetoric of Vision: Essays on Charles Williams" (1996).