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Christopher Hugh Derrick (12th June 1921 – 2nd October 2007) was an English 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 in 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. His surviving literary papers have been deposited in the archive at Douai Abbey, Berkshire.
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. 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.

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. For a time he was himself the editor of Good Work, the journal of the Catholic Art Association.

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. 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.