November 29, 1898 dawned just as any other day. No one knew that this particular day would be one of the most important ones for British literature. In Belfast, Ireland, a child was born to Albert James Lewis and Florence Augusta Lewis. He was baptized Clive Staples Lewis. The child grew up to be an influential novelist, poet, academician, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. C.S.Lewis, known at that time as “Jack” to his friends, is now best known for his novels: The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy
The author’s life, in short
The author grew up in the Strandtown area of East Belfast. He had an older brother, Warren Hamilton Lewis, with whom he had a very close relationship. As a child, C.S.Lewis was in love with Beatrix Potter’s stories and her anthropomorphic animals. He too drew and wrote short stories that fell in the same category. Together with his brother, he created the world Boxen that was completely inhabited by animals.
As he grew up, he was firstly tutored at home and later enrolled at Wynyard School in Watford, Hertfordshire. When the school was closed down, he attended Campbell College and the preparatory school Cherbourg House. It was during this time that C.S.Lewis became an atheist, being more interested in mythology than Christian traditions.
As a teenager he was enamored with Norse mythology and ancient Scandinavian literature. His tutor, William T. Kirkpatrick, nurtured the author’s passion for mythology and also guided him towards Greek myths. Before finishing his studies at University College, Oxford, C.S.Lewis took part in the First World War. In 1925, he became a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Magdalen College, Oxford. Unknown to him at that time, this election would have a great influence in his life.
C.S.Lewis: academician, novelist and Christian apologist
C.S.Lewis served at Magdalen College for twenty-nine years. During this time, he met J.R.R.Tolkien and a tight friendship was kindled between them. In time, the author started a literary circle called The Inklings that included J. R. R. Tolkien, Nevill Coghill, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and his brother Warren Lewis.
It was thanks to the support received by his fellow Inklings that the author started his career as a novelist. His first novel was The Pilgrim’s Regress, published in 1933. It was followed by The Space Trilogy published between 1938 and 1945. Undoubtedly, he is now most famous worldwide for his Chronicles of Narnia. The series of seven books came to life between 1949 and 1954. It was adapted for stage, radio, television and cinema.
In addition, C.S.Lewis is now considered one of the most important Christian apologists of his time. As a young man, the author was a convinced atheist. His love for George MacDonald and G. K. Chesterton’s books – works deeply influenced by Christianity – and his friendship with J.R.R.Tolkien, a fervent Catholic, were the ones that made him re-embrace his childhood religion.
C.S.Lewis died on the 22nd November, 1963, from renal failure. Media coverage of his death was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy that happened an hour after the author’s death. Have you read any of Lewsis’s books?
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