About CS Lewis
About C.S. Lewis, creator of the Chronicles of Narnia
Clive Staples Lewis—better known as C.S. Lewis—was an English professor of medieval literature who is best known for his Christian writings, including the series of children’s fantasy books known as The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis was a friend, colleague and neighbor of another great English fantasy writer, J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of the Lord of the Rings.
Born to a Protestant family in Belfast, Ireland, on November 29, 1898, Clive Staples Lewis was known as Jack to his closest friends and family. After his mother died in 1908, he attended several different schools in England. Although he abandoned his Christian faith in 1913, he returned to Christianity in 1931.
As a child, Lewis apparently was enchanted by the worlds created by Beatrix Potter, perhaps explaining the talking animals of the Narnia series. He also later grew much interested in Norse mythology.
Lewis served on the front lines during World War I, and was wounded at the Battle of Arras. Discharged in 1918, he returned to his studies, receiving high honors.
For thirty years, Lewis taught as a fellow of Magdalen College in Oxford. He later served as the first Professor of Medieval and Renaissand LIterature at Cambridge. His academic work focused on the medievel use of allegory—especially in the High Middle Ages. His criticism of Milton’s Paradise Lost still is considered an important work in that field.
Lewis also was a member of “The Inklings,” a literary discussion society whose memebrs included J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Owen Barfield.
Although his scholarly work is well known in academic circles, it is his more popular novels that have gained him immortality—especially the children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia.
Lewis’ first novel was The Pilgrim’s Regress, which followed his progress as a Christian. It was deemed a failure at the time.
The Chronicles of Narnia have been much more successfu. A series of seven fantasy novels for children, the Chronicles describe the adventures of a group of children who visit a magical world called Narnia.
Although the novels have Christian themes, they are never preachy and can be read as non-religious adventure stories. The novels have been described as an allegory, a charge which Lewis refuted. Instead, he said that he wrote the novels when he wondered what it would be like if Jesus Christ was incarnated on another world or planet to save the souls of those inhabitants.
The most popular of the seven is “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, which also was the first one published.
Lewis also wrote more explicitly Christian works such as “The Great Divorce” and “The Screwtape Letters,” which is composed of letters of advice from an elder demon named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood.
In addition to his novels and non-fiction works on medieval literature, Lewis wrote several books about Christianity, of which “Mere Christianity” is perhaps the msot important. In it, and other works, Lewis attempts to present a logical and reasonable case for Christianity. He has been called “The Apostle to the Sceptics” for his approach, which was influenced by his own reconversion.
Lewis also wrote an autobiography entitled Surprised by Joy, which describes his conversion. (It was written before he met his wife, Joy Gresham.) His essays and public speeches on Christian belief, many of which were collected in God in the Dock and The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, remain popular today for their insights into faith.
Lewis died on November 22, 1963, but his passing was little noted because of the simultaneous deaths of John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley.
His work, however, lives on.