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Christopher Derrick
Born 12 June 1921(1921-06-12)
Died 2 October 2007 (aged 86)
Occupation publisher's reader, reviewer, essayist
Nationality British
Writing period 20th century
Spouse(s) Katharine Helen Sharratt
Children eight sons and a daughter
Relative(s) Thomas Derrick (father), Michael Derrick (brother)

This article is about Christopher Derrick the author. If you are looking for Christopher Derrick the runner please see Chris Derrick

Christopher Hugh Derrick (12 June 1921–2 October 2007) was an author, reviewer, publisher's reader and lecturer. All his works are informed by wide interest in contemporary problems and a lively commitment to Catholic teaching.


Christopher Derrick was born at Hungerford, the son of the artist, illustrator and cartoonist Thomas Derrick and his wife Margaret, née Clausen. He was educated at Douai School 1934-39, and at Magdalen College, Oxford, 1940 and 1945-47, his studies being interrupted by service in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. In 1943 he married Katharine Helen Sharratt, who graduated from Bedford College the same year. They had nine children, eight sons and a daughter. From 1953 to 1965 he was Printing Officer of the University of London, as well as working as a reader for Macmillan. Thereafter he worked independently as a literary adviser to various publishers, as a book reviewer, and as a writer and lecturer. He died on 2 October 2007 at the age of 86.

Literary career

Most interest in Derrick has been in his memories of G. K. Chesterton, who was a friend of his father, and more especially C. S. Lewis, who was Derrick's tutor at Magdalen. He was constantly being asked by Lewis's Catholic admirers - such as the German Neo-Thomist, Josef Pieper, two of whose works Derrick had reviewed - why Lewis himself never became a Catholic.[1] He provided as definitive an answer as possible in his 1981 book C. S. Lewis and the Church of Rome. Another friend was the economist E. F. Schumacher, whose interest in Catholic social teaching he shared.[2]

Besides working as a literary adviser to a number of British publishing houses, Derrick was also a prolific book reviewer, among other publications for The Times Literary Supplement as well as for The Tablet, where his brother Michael Derrick was the assistant editor 1938-1961.[3] For a time he was himself the editor of Good Work, the journal of the Catholic Art Association.[4]

His daily occupation as a publisher's reader and a book reviewer meant constant engagement with the emerging trends of literary culture. He drew on this in many ways, including the writing of a book of advice for aspiring novelists: Reader's Report on the Writing of Novels.

Most of Derrick's writings, however, draw less on such literary reminiscences than on reflection on matters of pressing public concern within and outside the Catholic Church in the 1960s, 70s and 80s: the environment, social relations, sexual relations, population, liturgy, ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue, education, and the current state of language and literature.[5] One of the more successful of these books was Escape from Scepticism, a work inspired by the great books programme at Thomas Aquinas College in California.[6]

Books by Christopher Derrick

  • The Moral and Social Teaching of the Church. New Library of Catholic Knowledge vol. 8. London: Burns & Oates. 1964.
  • Cosmic Piety: Modern Man and the Meaning of the Universe, edited by Christopher Derrick. New York: P. J. Kennedy & Sons, 1965.
  • Light of Revelation and Non-Christians, edited by Christopher Derrick. Staten Island, NY: Alba House. 1965.
  • Trimming the Ark: Catholic Attitudes and the Cult of Change. London: Hutchinson. 1969. ISBN 0090968506[7]
  • Reader's Report on the Writing of Novels: a publisher's reader examines the pitfalls facing the aspiring novelist. London: Gollancz. 1969. ISBN 0575002662
  • Honest Love and Human Life: Is the Pope Right about Contraception?. London: Hutchinson. 1969. ISBN 0090987802[8]
  • The Delicate Creation: Towards a Theology of the Environment. London: Tom Stacey Ltd. 1972. ISBN 0854682031[9]
  • Escape from Scepticism: Liberal Education as if Truth Mattered. LaSalle, Ill.: Sherwood Sugden. 1977. ISBN 0893850029. Reissued by Ignatius Press. 2001. ISBN 9780898708486
  • Joy Without a Cause: Selected Essays of Christopher Derrick. La Salle, Ill.: Sherwood Sugden. 1979. ISBN 0893850047
  • The Rule of Peace: St. Benedict and the European Future. Still River, Mass.: St. Bede's Publications. 1980. ISBN 0932506011. Reissued 2002. ISBN 978-0932506016
  • C. S. Lewis and the Church of Rome: A Study in Proto-Ecumenism. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1981. ISBN 0898700094
  • Church Authority and Intellectual Freedom. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1981. ISBN 0898700116
  • Sex and Sacredness: A Catholic Homage to Venus. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1982. ISBN 0898700183
  • That Strange Divine Sea: Reflections on Being a Catholic. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1983. ISBN 0898700299
  • Too Many People?: A Problem in Values. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1985. ISBN 089870071X
  • Words and the Word: Notes on our Catholic vocabulary. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. 1987. ISBN 0898701309


  1. Josef Pieper, Autobiographische Schriften. Edited by Berthold Wald. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag. 2003. p. 580f
  2. The ChesterBelloc Mandate: The Education of E. F. Schumacher
  3. "Farewell to Christopher Derrick", The Tablet, 20 October 2007, p. 44.
  4. Merton Center website
  5. Obituary in St. Austin Review, January 2008.
  6. Obituary in Thomas Aquinas College Newsletter, Fall 2007.
  7. Reviewed in TLS, 7 Aug. 1969.
  8. Reviewed in TLS, 18 Sept. 1969.
  9. Reviewed in TLS, 29 June 1973.

External links

eo:Christopher Derrick