Shaw, Luci (1928-) | Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections
Luci Northcote Shaw, speaker, poet, teacher, editor and writer, was born in London, England, on December 29th, 1928, the daughter of Gladys and Northcote Deck, devout Plymouth Brethren. Dr. Deck, a featured speaker at the famed Keswick Conference, authored several devotional books. Luci attended elementary schools in England and Australia, and high school in Canada. She graduated from Branksome Hall Girl’s School, Toronto, Canada in 1948. Enrolling at Wheaton College in 1949, Luci Shaw graduated magna cum laude in 1953, with a major in English Literature, a minor in New Testament Greek.
That year she married Harold Shaw, with whom she had five children; amid the constant demands of family life, Shaw wrote as time permitted. Later, as Harold assumed administrative duties at Moody Bible Institute, Luci freelanced, editing for Moody Press and Intervarsity Press, in addition to privately teaching Greek. Her first poetry collection, Listen to the Green, appeared in 1974.
In the late 1960s, Harold, serving as business manager for Tyndale House Publishers, partnered with Luci to found Harold Shaw Publishers (HSP), dedicated to packaging fiction, poetry and non-fiction for discerning Christian readers. Notable authors included Stuart and Jill Briscoe, George MacDonald, Thomas Howard, Chad Walsh, Calvin Miller and J.I. Packer.
The business performed well, growing steadily to a warehouse and full-time editorial staff. Quite unexpectedly in 1984, Harold Shaw contracted cancer, dying a year later. Luci chronicles his diagnosis and eventual death, and her own struggles as his caregiver, in God in the Dark: Through Grief and Beyond. She assumed responsibilities as president of HSP until its management passed to others in 1993, but continued as editorial director until the company, now called Shaw Publishers, was sold to Water Brook Publishers in 2000.
Additional to her diverse and thoughtful reading, a tremendous influence on her imaginative life is Dr. Clyde Kilby (1902-86), beloved professor of English at Wheaton College, whose vision and relentless initiative established the world-renowned Wade Center, featuring the writings and belongings of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and five other British authors. Kilby, recognizing Shaw’s talent, encouraged her to greater efforts. “I’m convinced I’m in writing and literature today because of him,” she reflects.
Luci Shaw is often associated with Madeleine L’Engle, with whom she developed a friendship in 1972 when L’Engle first spoke at Wheaton College. Their relationship led to L’Engle publishing several original titles with HSP; later, it formed the basis for three books, A Prayerbook for Spiritual Friends and Friends for the Journey; and WinterSong, an Anthology of Christmas Readings, co-authored by L’Engle and Shaw. Through the 1990s they lectured together at churches and retreats, addressing creativity, faith and the spirituality of friendship.
While living in the midwest, Shaw attended St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Geneva, IL, serving as Lay Eucharistic Minister, Lector, Small group facilitator, and home Bible study leader. Moving to California, she attended Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Menlo Park, CA, serving as Lay Eucharistic Minister, Lector, Adult small group study leader and Healing Prayer Ministry. She presently attends St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Bellingham, WA, where she serves as vestry member, Lay Leader, Lay Eucharistic Visitor, lector and choir member.
Aside from writing, Shaw’s numerous activities include: Poetry workshop leader, and journal workshop leader at numerous writers conferences and creative arts festivals internationally; retreat leader for churches and other groups, including the Regent College Faculty Retreat and Regent Summer School Prayer Retreats Lecturer on topics such as poetry, reflective journal writing, the creative process, the Christian imagination and art and spirituality; Olivet Nazarene College, Wheaton Graduate School of Communications, Trinity College (Deerfield), Azusa Pacific College, Friends University, Bethel College, Associated Mennonite Brethren Seminaries, Regent College, Conference on Christianity & Literature poetry contests, Radix poetry contest, Andrews University, Mt. Hermon School of Writing, Seattle Pacific University, and C.S. Lewis Summer Institutes at Oxford University (Poet in Residence). In honor of her contributions, Shaw received the Wheaton College Alumna of the Year, 2003, for Distinguished Service to Society.
Owing to her felicitous sense of language, Shaw has served as literary stylist for Today’s New International Version and portions of The Message. Ken Taylor, commenting on her editorial contributions to The Living Bible, writes: “Often I was amazed at her skill in changing a word or phrase, and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself.”
Eugene H. Peterson, pastor, and poet, commends “…her gifts of word-crafted icons by which we behold the Glory, see the holy.” Novelist Walter Wangerin, Jr., writes, “Shaw gives voice to mute creation and causes a chorus unto God.” Jean Janzen, author of The Upside Down Tree, praises “…her ‘lovely, loose exactness’…Luci Shaw moves the reader toward healing and wholeness.” She has also published essays in several anthologies.
In 1991, Shaw married Mr. John Merrishaw Hoyte of Menlo Park, California. They reside in Bellingham, Washington, where she is an adjunct professor and Writer in Residence at Regent College. She enjoys photography, camping and gardening. In Water My Soul, Shaw metaphorically parallels the cultivation of the interior life with the seasons of seed and soil, watering and waiting. Indeed, the natural world provides a boundless cache of images for Shaw’s work. Her most recent poetry, Water Lines (2003), celebrates the myriad forms of water. Other recent books include The Crime of Living Cautiously, What The Light Was Like, Accompanied By Angels: poems of the Incarnation, The Genesis Of It All, and Breath For The Bones.