04 May 2022, The Tablet

John Wilkins – the embodiment of what it means to be a Christian

by Catherine Pepinster , Annabel Miller , Brendan McCarthy , Gerald O’Collins SJ, Rebecca Williams

John Wilkins’ office was much more than a head teacher’s inner sanctum, writes Catherine Pepinster

John Wilkins – the embodiment of what it means to be a Christian

John Wilkins
Photo: Brendan McCarrthy


His was a hard act to follow, says Catherine Pepinster, but his passion for his work and pride in his writers was an inspiration

One of the most daunting aspects of taking over from John Wilkins as editor of The Tablet was inheriting his office. At first glance it was akin to a headmaster’s study: full of books, papers, overflowing filing cabinets, aged Dictaphone machines, notebooks and old diaries.

The Wilkins office, however, was much more than a head teacher’s inner sanctum. Before taking over, I spent a month at The Tablet while John was still in post, and as I ventured into the room, where John seemed to be perched, peeking out from this mass of material, I realised that it was not so much a busy place of work but a nest. Here John – almost as passionate about ornithology as the Catholic Church – had created a place where he could nestle down, nurturing his staff and cooing over the work of his contributors. And boy, could he make them fly! A sprinkle of the Wilkins stardust could make a piece really take off and soar away.


Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £30 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login